APN Legislative Round-Up: May 30, 2014

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  NDAA May Madness Continues – Senate Version  
3. Members on the Record  
4. From the Press


1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(LIMITING AID TO SYRIAN OPPOSITION) HR XXXX: This week, the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee released the first draft of the FY15 Defense Appropriations bill.  With respect to the Middle East, the bill includes the following:

SEC. 9013. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used with respect to Syria in contravention of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.), including for the introduction of United States armed or military forces into hostilities in Syria, into situations in Syria where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, or into Syrian territory, airspace, or waters while equipped for combat, in contravention of the congressional consultation and reporting requirements of sections 3 and 4 of that law (50 U.S.C. 1542 and 1543).

For reporting on this, see: House Defense bill limits aid to Syrian rebels (Al-Monitor 5/29/14)

(SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS) HR 4681:  Introduced 5/20 by Rogers (R-MI), the “Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015.”  On 5/27, reported out of committee and headed to the floor for a vote.   With respect to the Middle East, the bill includes the following:  


    (a) In General- Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to Congress a report on the Syrian chemical weapons program.

    (b) Elements- The report required under subsection (a) shall include the following elements:

        (1) A comprehensive assessment of chemical weapon stockpiles in Syria, including names, types, and quantities of chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.

        (2) A listing of key personnel associated with the Syrian chemical weapons program.

        (3) An assessment of undeclared chemical weapons stockpiles, munitions, and facilities.

        (4) An assessment of how these stockpiles, precursors, and delivery systems were obtained.

        (5) A description of key intelligence gaps related to the Syrian chemical weapons program.

        (6) An assessment of any denial and deception efforts on the part of the Syrian regime related to its chemical weapons program.

    (c) Progress Reports- Every 90 days until the date that is 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to Congress a progress report providing any material updates to the report required under subsection (a).


(IRAN SANCTIONS) GAO letter & report on State Department implementation of Iran sanctions: On 5/23, the GAO sent a cover letter along with its report to Rep. Royce (R-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, responding to a question he had posed the GAO about how the Department of State implements certain specific sanctions on Iran.


2. NDAA May Madness Continues – Senate Version

On 5/23, the Senate Armed Services Committee completed its mark-up of its own version of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act.  While text of the bill has so far not been made public, the Committee did publish a lengthy press release/summary of the bill.   That summary notes the following with respect to Middle East funding authorized in the bill under the category of Ballistic Missile Defense:

  • [the bill] Authorizes missile defense programs at $8.7 billion, the budget request level plus an increase of $190 million for improvements to our homeland defense and for Israeli missile defense programs.
  •  [the bill] Authorizes $351 million (an increase of $175 million) for Israel to procure additional Iron Dome interceptors, including co-production in the United States, or, if Israel determines it is a higher national security priority, to use some or all of the additional $175 million for three U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile defense programs (Arrow System Improvement Program; Arrow-3 upper tier interceptor development; and David’s Sling short-range ballistic missile defense system).


3. Members on the Record

Engel (D-NY) 5/29: Statement on Egyptian Elections

Comments 5/29 (critical) on Obama’s 5/28 West Point speech (with respect to Syria, Iran, etc):
Royce (R-CA), Rogers (R-MI),  and Blunt (R-MO)

Casey (D-PA) 5/28: Statement on President Obama’s Pledge to Work with Congress to Increase Support to Moderate Opposition in Syria

Frankel (D-FL) 5/28:  Speech marking Jerusalem Day

Shuster (R-PA) 5/28:  Honoring the Republic of Azerbaijan on the 96th Anniversary of Republic Day (including praising its relations with Israel)

Cook (R-CA) 5/28: Honoring the Republic of Azerbaijan on the 96th Anniversary of Republic Day (including praising its relations with Israel)

Kirk (R-IL) & Durbin (D-IL) 5/27: Oped - U.S. Must Condemn Persecution in Iran (text also here)

Levin (D-MI), Stabenow (D-MI), & Kildee (D-MI) 5/26:  Press release - On his 1,000th day of imprisonment, Levin, Stabenow, Kildee renew calls for Hekmati's release [by Iran]

Bustos (D-IL) 5/23: Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month (including relations with Israel)

Meadows (R-NC) 5/23: Press Release - Meadows' Hezbollah Sanctions Bill Garners Support of Majority of the House

Goodlatte (R-VA) 5/22:  Supporting Lamborn language in the FY15 NDAA, calling for zero Iranian enrichment, etc.

Gohmert (R-TX) 5/22: Rambling statement making case, among other things, defending Israeli control over all the land promised from the time of King David, slamming Secretary Kerry for “saying that they are guilty of apartheid” (he didn’t say it), and arguing, “When we fail to acknowledge that Creator, when we fail to stand up for those who acknowledge the Creator, when we fail to stand up and provide for the common defense, then there will be a price to pay.”

Lowenthal (D-CA) 5/22: Supporting Iran talks, but arguing that “As the initial 6-month period for negotiations comes to an end on July 20 and as we debate the NDAA, it is crucial for Congress to speak out on what a good deal with Iran would look like. “

McCain (R-AZ) 5/22:  Floor speech on Syria

4. From the Press

YNet 5/29: US Congress marks Jerusalem Day with Israeli delegates

The Right Scoop 5/29: Ted Cruz talks to Hannity about trip to Israel, says they are very worried about Obama deal with Iran

Times of Israel 5/29: Sen. Cruz: US is repeating N. Korea failures with Iran

WaPo (Jennifer Rubin) 5/29: Sen. Ted Cruz goes abroad

The Hill 5/28: Cruz: Obama undermined Israel’s security

The Blaze 5/28: Israel Warns Cruz Against U.S.-Iran Deal

Bloomberg 5/28: Israel Agrees to Spend Half of Iron Dome Funds in U.S.

The Hill 5/28: Cruz: I’m no Rand Paul on Israel

Al-Monitor 5/28: Obama asks Congress to 'ramp up' support for Syrian opposition

NJ Jewish News 5/27: Did Menendez kill pro-Israel bill to save it?

Haaretz 5/27: Congress doesn’t trust Obama - and Israel is paying the price

Daily Caller 5/27: Cruz Slams Obama, Kerry In Israel, Blames Palestinians For Peace Failure

World Tribune 5/26: Congress attaches tech-sharing conditions to increased funding for Israel’s Iron Dome

JP Updates 5/26: Bipartisan Support For Israel Expressed At ZOA Day Of Lobbying On Capitol Hill (lots of quotes from members)

Algemeiner 5/26: Senator Bob Menendez Outlines Positions on Israel, Iran

Jerusalem Post 5/26: Sen. Ted Cruz blames Palestinians for failed peace talks