APN Legislative Round-Up: June 21 - July 2, 2014

1.   Bills & Resolutions
2.  Hearings
3. Members on the Record
4.  From the Press


With apologies for the irregular timing of the Round-Up – a victim of summer travel plans…


Of Special Note:

7/2: APN Condemns Killing of Palestinian Teen; Calls to Stop Incitement

6/30: APN Mourns Israeli Teens Murdered in the West Bank

6/27: A Very Different Ramadan (by APN Intern Hamze Awawdeh)

6/23: APN Press Release: Statement on PC (USA) Divestment Decision


1. Bills & Resolutions

(VETO ON IRAN DEAL)  HR 4967: Introduced 6/25 by Franks (R-AZ) and 9 cosponsors, “To provide congressional review of nuclear agreements with Iran.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Rules.

(KIDNAPPED ISRAELIS) H. Res. 642: Introduced 6/25 by Schneider (D-IL) and Weber (R-TX), “Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the three kidnapped teenagers held captive in the West Bank, and for other purposes.”  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.  Schneider press release here. (Overtaken by events with the discovery of the bodies of the three teens on 6/30).

(HOUSE FY15 ForOps) HR 5013:  On 6/24 the full House Appropriations Committee marked up the House version of the FY15 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.  The video of the hearing is here.  Middle East subcommittee Chair Granger’s (R-TX) statement, which touches on funding for the Middle East, is here.  Text of the committee report is available here.  As no Middle East-related amendments were adopted in committee, the analysis of the Middle East-related elements in the bill detailed in the 6/20/14 edition of the Round-Up remains unchanged.  Notably, Schiff (D-CA) offered an amendment to reduce military to Egypt by $300 million (leaving $1 billion in aid intact).  That amendment was strongly opposed by AIPAC, which reportedly lobbied members against it.  The Schiff amendment failed by a vote of 35-11.  Full reporting in Al-Monitor, here.

(FY15 DEFENSE APPROPS) HR 4870:  Introduced 6/13 by Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015.”  House report here.    Key details of note:

  • Section 8069 of the bill earmarks $619,814,000 for the Israeli Cooperative Programs.  Of this, $350,972,000 is earmarked “for the Secretary of Defense to provide to the Government of Israel for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats”;   $137,934,000 is earmarked for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program; $74,707,000 is earmarked for “an upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture”; and $56,201,000 is earmarked for the Arrow System Improvement Program.  As in the past, the section includes language permitting a portion of these funds to be used, effectively, as FMF. 
  • The Committee report notes that the funding for Iron Dome is $175 million above the President's request, and that the remaining $268,842,000 for the Israeli Cooperative Programs is an increase of $172,039,000 above the President's request.  The report notes that with this FY15 recommendation, U.S. funding for Iron Dome will increase to a total of more than $1,070,000. 
  • The report also notes Committee concerns the existing agreement between Israel and the U.S. concerning procuring/producing components in the U.S. does not cover the full amount recommended for FY15, and directs that $175,000,000 of the funds recommended for FY15 may not be obligated or expended until a set of conditions, set out in the Report, are met. The Committee also lays out requirements regarding any FY16 request for Iron Dome funding. 
  • In addition, Sec. 9013 bars funding in the bill from being 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).” 
  • During floor consideration of the bill, two members offered amendments barring funding in the bill from being used to aid the Palestinian Authority.  Both amendments were adopted, notwithstanding the fact that no U.S. funding for the PA comes from this bill.
  • Rep. King (R-IA) offered H. Amdt. 933, “to prohibit the use of funds to transfer weapons to the Palestinian Authority.”  That amendment was agreed to by voice vote (floor consideration here).  King’s press release is here.
  • Rep. Gosar (R-AZ) went even further with H. Amdt. 944, “to prohibit the use of funds for the following entities or in contravention of Title 18 U.S.C., Section 2339B: 1) The Government Iran; 2) The Government of Syria; 3) The Palestinian Authority; 4) Hamas; 5) The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”  This amendment, which lumps the PA in with two points on the Axis of Evil and two designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, was adopted by a roll call vote of 280-133.   Gosar’s press release is here.  Floor consideration here, including statements opposing the amendment from Visclosky (D-IN) and Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).  Carney (D-DE) and Van Hollen (D-MD) placed a statement in the records after the vote explaining their opposition to the amendment (among other things).
  • In his floor statement on his amendment, Gosar (R-AZ) makes clear that the goal is to punish the Palestinians for a unity government that he sees as an “end run” around U.S. restrictions (by making sure the reconciliation government conforms to U.S law – a textbook example of not taking “yes” for an answer!).  With respect to the FTOs listed in his amendment, he admits that his amendment is in fact redundant, noting, “I understand the law, and I understand that the U.S. already has laws to prevent the transfer of assistance to these foreign terrorist organizations. It is just that I am not convinced that the President, his Attorney General, or any other member of his Cabinet Secretaries understands the laws of this Nation the way that I do or will follow those laws as U.S. citizens must. This is just one more attempt to double down on the letter of the law.”  
  • In his statement opposing the bill, Van Hollen (D-MD) notes with respect to the Gosar amendment, “This amendment was a blatant effort to exploit fear and misunderstanding. There is no intention to provide Iran, Syria, Hamas, or ISIS with any military assistance. I would strongly oppose any such move. However, the United States, with the support of the State of Israel, has at times provided different forms of assistance to the Palestinian Authority to enhance security and fight terrorism. By including the Palestinian Authority in the list of entities that should be prohibited from receiving assistance, the amendment was an obvious example of what is known around here as a ‘gotya’ amendment. It is time to stop playing those political games.”

(HEZBOLLAH BILL, IRAN RESOLUTION, & TURKEY RESOLUTION):  On 6/26 the House Foreign Affairs committee marked up and passed several pieces of (relatively) noncontroversial legislation related to Iran and the Middle East.  These were: HR 4411, the “Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014” (introduced 4/7 by Meadows, R-NC and Schneider, D-IL); H. Res. 435, “Calling on the government of Iran to fulfill their promises of assistance in this case of Robert Levinson, one of the longest held United States civilians in our Nation's history”; and HR 4347, the “Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act.”  Turkey was unhappy with HR 4347, as reported in Al-Monitor: “Turkey lashes out at Congress over Christian churches bill.” Lebanon, on the other hand, was presumably happy to see language stripped from HR 4411 language to which Lebanese officials reported objected to strongly, as also reported in Al-Monitor: “House gives Lebanon a pass in Hezbollah sanctions bill.”  Meadows (R-NC) press release here.  Schneider (D-IL) press release here.


2.  Hearings

6/25: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs held a hearing entitled, “Iran's Support for Terrorism in the Middle East.” Witnesses were: James Jeffrey, WINEP (Testimony); Daniel Byman, Brookings Institution (Testimony);  Danielle Pletka, AEI (Testimony);  and Matthew Levitt, WINEP (Testimony).  Video of the hearing is available here.

6/24: Briefing for House for Affairs Committee by senior Administration official regarding the status of the P5+1 negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.  Royce (R-CA) readout on the briefing is here.


3.  Members on the Record

Late-breaking: Congress on murder of Palestinian youth in Jerusalem

Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) (on Twitter) 7/2: “I condemn revenge killing of Palestinian youth. Must allow #Israeli authorities 2 find the perpetrators of this atrocity.”

Nadler (D-FL) (on Twitter) 7/2: “Seeing horrible reports of a Palestinian teenager killed. Thoughts w/his family. Those behind this despicable act must be brought to justice”

Statements on the Murder of Israeli Teens

Waxman (D-CA), Hoyer (D-MD), Engel (D-NY), Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Lowey (D-NY), Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) , Schiff (D-CA), Boehner (R-OH),  Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Deutch (D-FL), Holt (D-NJ), Meng (D-NY), Hastings (D-FL), Wilson (D-FL), DeSantis (R-FL), Paulsen (R-MN), Himes (D-CT), Rangel (D-NY), Engel (D-NY), Bilirakis (R-FL), Royce (R-CA), Leahy (D-VT), Rubio (R-FL), Menendez (D-NJ), Kirk (R-IL), Gillibrand (D-NY), Reid (D-NV), Cruz (R-TX), Toomey (R-PA),  Markey (D-MA)

Remarks at Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony Honoring Shimon Peres 6/26

Reid (D-NV), Pelosi (D-CA), Boehner (R-OH)


Paul (R-KY) 7/1: NRO oped: Tragedy in Israel – It’s Time to End Aid to the Palestinian Authority

Royce (R-CA) 6/30: Chairman Royce Statement on Iran’s Violation of U.N. Arms Embargo

Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Deutch (D-FL) 6/29: During Visit to Jordan, Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch Tour Syrian Refugee Camp & Discuss Security and Instability in the region with King Abdullah II

Feinstein (D-CA) 6/27: Feinstein Statement on Ambassador Indyk

Smith (R-NJ) 6/26: Smith Receives Coptic Leadership Award for Efforts to Fight Human Rights Abuses of Copts

Casey (D-PA) 6/26: Casey Statement on President Obama’s Request for U.S. To Train and Equip Vetted Members of Moderate Syrian Opposition

Fattah (D-PA) 6/26: Fattah Updates Israeli President Shimon Peres on US-Israel Neuroscience Legislation

Pelosi (D-CA) 6/26: Pelosi Statement on SF Solidarity Event for Kidnapped Israeli Teens

Graham (R-SC) & McCain (R-AZ) 6/26: On the situation in the Middle East

Cruz (R-TX) 6/26: Full Weight of the World Should Bear Down on Hamas until They Return Kidnapped Israeli Teens

Engel (D-NY) 6/26: Engel Applauds Administration Move to Support Moderate Syrian Opposition

Chabot (R-OH) 6/25: Statement in support of H. Res. 109 (regarding plight of Baha’i in Iran)

Blunt (R-MO) 6/25: On the plight of Pastor Abedini, jailed in Iran

Wolf (R-VA) 6/24: Expressing unhappiness with the PC(USA) divestment decision

Engel (D-NY) 6/24: Engel Renews Call for the Release of Kidnapped Israeli Teens

Wolf (R-VA) 6/23: Speaking on plight of 3 Israeli youth kidnapped in West Bank

Engel (D-NY) 6/23: Engel Statement on Removal of Chemical Weapons from Syria


4. From the Press

National Journal 7/2: This Is How Rand Paul Is Trying to Win Over the Right on Foreign Policy
The Kentucky Republican's policies toward Israel may not have changed much. But his rhetoric has.

Sunshine State News 7/2: Marco Rubio: Suspend Aid to Palestinian Government

Sunshine State News 7/2: Florida Delegation Condemns Murder of Israeli Teens, Calls out Hamas

Times of Israel 7/1: Kerry condemns murders, Congress takes on Palestinian unity government

Algemeiner 7/1: U.S. Reps: Palestinian Unity Government Should be Dissolved After Murder of Teens (Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL, and Deutch, D-FL)

NY Daily News 6/30: NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Calls on President Obama to stop negotiating with the Palestinian Authority

Buzzfeed 6/30: Democrats Cautious On Palestinian Unity Government after Murder of Israeli Teens

JP Updates 6/30: Schumer: US Should Cut Aid To Palestinian Gov’t Unless It Ends Coalition With Hamas

Arutz Sheva 6/30: Congress to Cut Aid to PA over Terror Salaries

National Journal 6/30: Congress Avoids Calling for Specific U.S. Action after Death of Israeli Teens

Defense News 6/28: Congress Moves To Halt Palestinian Funding

Haaretz 6/27: Congress shouldn’t cut aid to the Palestinian Authority

Times of Israel 6/27: GOP congressmen to Abbas: You are responsible for Hamas (Lamborn, R-CO; David McKinley, R-WV; Stivers, R-OH; Blackburn, R-TN; Franks, R-AZ; and Grimm, R-NY).

Times of Israel 6/27: Ted Cruz: US should aid Israel to locate abducted teens with ‘all available means’

The Cable 6/27: Exclusive: The Hawks' Playbook for Opposing an Obama Nuclear Deal with Iran

Al-Monitor 6/26: Obama wants $500M to train, equip Syrian rebels

Arutz Sheva 6/26: Peres Tells Congress 'Arabs Are Not Enemies of Israel'

Free Beacon 6/20: Paul Seeks to Remove Obama Waiver Power on Palestinian Aid