APN Legislative Round-Up: Aug 2-Sept 12, 2014

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

(Please note that the Round-Up will NOT be comprehensively covering developments focused on ISIS, except insofar as they relate in some way to other issues related to Israel and the Middle East – e.g., Members of Congress equating ISIS with Hamas.)

Shameless plug:

Lara Friedman post, 9/10: Everything Elliot Abrams & Uri Sadot Want You to Believe about Settlements Is Wrong
Peace Now 8/31: Unprecedented land confiscation of 4,000 dunams near Bethlehem
Hard Questions, Tough Answers with Yossi Alpher, 9/8: Islamic State; Status of Israel-Gaza Ceasefire
Lara Friedman in the Forward 8/28: Did Hamas Get Bibi to Freeze Settlements?


1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(NO FUNDS TO THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY) HR 5433:  Introduced 9/10 by Stockman (R-TX) and Scott (R-PA), the “Stop Funding Terrorism Act.”   The bill would ban all assistance to the PA unless the PA meets a list of conditions, most of which it already satisfies—except the condition (which has nothing to do with terrorism) that it has “formally recognized the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.” Referred to Committee on Foreign Affairs.  On 9/10 Stockman issued a statement on his bill entitled, “Stockman moves to block Obama’s illegal transfer of $440 million to HAMAS-connected government.”

(NEW BILL TO PENALIZE BOYCOTTS OF ANYTHING RELATED TO ISRAEL?)  HR XXX:  On 9/9, Buzzfeed’s Rosie Grey reported (click through for the full article):

The most powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization, AIPAC, is working on drafting legislation that would aim to counter the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, two sources familiar with the situation told BuzzFeed News.

 The legislation, which has not yet been introduced and has been in the process of being drafted for months, would aim to prevent U.S. companies from participating in the campaign without infringing on Americans’ First Amendment rights to political speech. It would also try to make the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated between the U.S. and E.U. conditional on whether the E.U. takes action to stop BDS.

“The biggest provisions would be authorizing states and local governments to divest from companies deemed to be participating in BDS; denial of federal contracts to such companies; and threatening the conditioning of the US-EU free trade pact on the EU taking action to stop BDS activities within its jurisdictions,” said a Republican foreign policy adviser familiar with the legislation. The bill, the adviser said, originated with a former top aide to Illinois Senator Mark Kirk and has now been “expanded” by AIPAC, which is working with House and Senate offices on the draft.

(AUMF) HR 5415:  Introduced 9/8 by Wolf (R-VA) and four cosponsors, “To authorize the use of military force against international terrorism.”   Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(WAR POWERS) HR 5416 Introduced 9/8 by Wolf (R-VA), “To repeal the War Powers Resolution and to provide for proper war powers consultation, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Rules.

(AUTHORIZE FORCE AGAINS ISIL) H. J. Res. 123:   Introduced 9/8 by Issa (R-CA) and 8 cosponsors, “To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(AUTHORIZE FORCE AGAINS ISIL) S. J. Res.42:  Introduced 9/8 by Nelson (D-FL), A joint resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Nelson statement on the introduction of S. J. Res. 42 is here.

(AUTHORIZE FORCE AGAINS ISIL) S. J. Res.43:  Introduced 9/8 by Inhofe (R-OK), “A joint resolution to authorize the use of force against the organization called the Islamic State in order to defend the American people and assist the Iraqi Government in expelling the Islamic State from their territory.”   Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.  Inhofe statement on the introduction of S. J. Res. 43 is here.

(CALLING FOR DEBATE/VOTE ON COMBAT IN IRAQ OR SYRIA) H. Con. Res. 114:  Introduced 9/11 by Grijalva (D-AZ) and two cosponsors, “Urging Congress to debate and vote on a statutory authorization for any sustained United States combat role in Iraq or Syria.”  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(ADMISSION OF REFUGEES FROM ISIS-CONTROLLED AREAS) HR 5430 Introduced 9/9 by Vargas (X-CA), “to direct the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, to establish processes for certain aliens located in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, or Syria to apply for admission to the United States as refugees, and for other purposes.”  Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.


(WHAT THE U.S. SHOULD DO RE: GAZA) Casey-Ayotte letter:  This week, Senators Casey (D-PA) and Ayotte (R-NH) are seeking cosigners on a letter to Secretary Kerry advising him on what the U.S. policy and priorities should be with respect to the Palestinians and Gaza.  The letter urges Secretary Kerry to “focus on three key objectives:  (1) preventing Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities; (2) enabling the Palestinian Authority to move toward becoming the Palestinian governing authority in Gaza; and (3) preventing negative developments at the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, and the International Criminal Court that could derail any prospects for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.” The letter does not in any way address other issues of concern in the last war, like the high Palestinian civilian death toll, including hundreds of children.  Likewise, it in no way mentions Israeli policies and actions (like the recent announcement of a huge land expropriation in the West Bank) that strengthen Hamas, undermine Abbas and the PA, and make “negative” developments at the UN and ICC ever-more likely, if not inevitable – or what the U.S. response to such policies/actions should be.

(PLEASE SEND AMBASSADORS BACK TO ISRAEL!) Rubio et al letters:  On 8/25, Senators Rubio (R-FL), Menendez (D-NJ), Kirk (R-IL) and Risch (R-ID) sent letters to the presidents of Brazil, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and El Salvador, expressing disappointment over their respective decisions to recall their ambassadors to protest the recent Israel-Hamas conflict.  The letters assert the legitimacy of all of Israel’s actions in that conflict and state that the “decision to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel at this critical time will only embolden Hamas leaders to continue on the current course of indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli civilians rather than working with the Israeli government to achieve a sustainable cease fire arrangement.”  The letters also assert that the recall of the ambassadors sends “a troubling message to the United States about your government’s commitment to long-lasting peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.”   The letters urges the leaders to send their ambassadors back to Israel “as a symbol of your country’s steadfast commitment to achieving an enduring peace in the Middle East and the fight against the scourge of international terrorism.”

(INVESTIGATE UNRWA) Rubio-Kirk-Cardin letter:  On August 5, Senators Rubio (R-FL), Kirk (R-IL) and Cardin (D-MD) sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry demanding an investigation into “weapons found at UNRWA schools as well one-sided statements from UNRWA leadership that unjustly condemn Israel.”


2.  Hearings

9/18: The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing entitled, “The Administration’s Strategy for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).” Scheduled witness is Secretary of Defense Hagel.

9/18: The House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing entitled, “The ISIS Threat: Weighing the Obama Administration’s Response.”  Scheduled witness is Secretary of State Kerry.

9/17: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to a hearing entitled, “United States Strategy to Defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.”  Scheduled witness is Secretary of State Kerry.

9/16: The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing entitled, “U.S. Policy Towards Iraq and Syria and the Threat Posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”  Scheduled witnesses are Secretary of Defense Hagel and General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

9/10 – The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, and Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, held a joint hearing entitled “Genocidal Attacks Against Christian and Other Religious Minorities in Syria and Iraq.” Panel 1 witnesses were: Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (statement); Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (statement); and Thomas Staal, Senior Deputy USAID Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (statement). Video of Panel 1 is here.  Panel 2 witnesses were: Ibrahim N. Ibrahim, Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle (no written statement available);  Peter Galbraith, former Advisor to the Kurdistan Regional Government (statement); Pascale Esho Warda, Former Minister of Immigration and Refugees in the Iraqi Government (statement); and Thomas Farr, Georgetown University (statement).  Video of Panel 2 is here.  Chairman Smith’s (R-NJ) statement 9/11 statement about the hearing is here.  Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) opening statement is here.

9/9: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a joint hearing entitled “Hamas' Benefactors: A Network of Terror.”  Video of the hearing is here.  Witnesses were: Jonathan Schanzer, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (statement); Avi Jorisch, American Foreign Policy Council (statement); and Steven Cook, Council on Foreign Relations (statement).  Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) opening statement is here.  Also see: Congress goes after 'frenemies' Turkey, Qatar (Al-Monitor, 9/9); House panel urged to probe Turkish, Qatari support of Hamas (Times of Israel, 9/10), and Turkey, Qatar called 'frenemies' of Washington (i24news, 9/10).


3.  Members on the Record

Westmoreland (R-GA) 9/11: Demonstrating that some Members of Congress don’t know the difference between Hamas and Hizballah (“Now, to me, it is really confusing over there about who is fighting whom. If you look at Hamas and the Lebanese Army teaming up with them in Arsal to drive out the rebels that Assad had driven into Lebanon…”)

Hartzler (R-MO) 9/11: Video statement in solidarity with Pastor Abedini

Reid (D-NV) 9/11: Floor statement equating Hamas with ISIS (also here, as a press release)

Rigell (R-VA) 9/11: Statement (appears to be quoted from constituent Rabbi) on situation in Israel during last Gaza war (Netanyahu talking points)

Bachmann (R-MN) 9/11: Denouncing ISIS (and noting, among other things, that “if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, they have stated unequivocally they will use that nuclear weapon to wipe Israel off the map. They will also use that weapon, they have stated, against the United States to defeat the United States of America.”) 

Cruz (R-TX) 9/10: Sen. Cruz Statement Regarding ‘In Defense of Christians’ Event

McConnell (R-KY) 9/10: Criticizing Obama’s Middle East strategy

Garrett (R-NJ) 9/9: Welcoming the “In Defense of Christians Inaugural Summit”

Smith (D-WA) 9/9: Citing Netanyahu’s prisoner exchange with Hamas in defense Obama Administration decision to transfer 5 Taliban prisoners out of Guantanamo

Davis (D-CA) 9/9: Expressing support for $$ Iron Dome (would have voted “yea” if present)

Green (D-TX) 9/8: On the record that would have voted for Iron Dome $$ if had been present

Byrne (R-AL) 9/7: Lessons from My Trip to the Middle East

Hartzler (R-MO) 9/5: Congresswoman Hartzler returns from Congressional Delegation trip to Middle East (and equates ISIS, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Boko Haram)

Byrne (R-AL) 9/5: statement: Byrne Returning from Trip to the Middle East (equating ISIS, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Boko Haram)

Nadler (D-NY) 9/3: Tweet – “Agree w/Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid on need to return to negotiations & being ‘against any swift changes in the West Bank right now’"

Cole (R-OK) 9/2: press release: “We Must Stand with Israel” (equating Hamas with ISIS)

Royce (R-CA) and Engel (D-NY) 8/30: press release: “Royce, Engel Travel to Israel”

Stockman (R-TX) 8/29: Statement: The Middle East is on fire and being overrun by radical Islam

Ellison (D-MN) 8/27: Statement on the Announcement of an Open-Ended Ceasefire Agreement between Israel and Hamas

King (R-NY) 8/26: tweet – “Jarring experience during my trip to Israel this a.m. as we were forced to seek shelter due to incoming Hamas rockets”

Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) 8/25: Oped, “American Leadership is Becoming a Distant Memory in Distant Lands” (among other things equating Hamas with ISIS and Boko Haram, and stating that “Iran’s determined effort to acquire nuclear weapons continues unabated.”

Landrieu (D-LA) 8/24: Landrieu Highlights Benefits of U.S.-Israel Energy Partnership at Summit in New Orleans

Hultgren (R-IL) 8/21: Oped in Chicago Sun-Times, “Israel seeks only to survive”

Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 8/12: “UN Takes Anti-Israel Agenda to New Levels with Appointment of Unabashedly Biased Panel in Latest Sham Inquiry”

Rubio (R-FL) 8/13: Rubio Calls on Prime Minister of Turkey to Stop Hateful Rhetoric against Israel, Prevent Confrontation

Griffith (X-VA) 8/11: Detailing his recent trip to Israel

Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) 8/11: Oped in the Sun Sentinal, “World must speak out as anti-Semitism rises again”

Hahn (D-CA) 8/8: press release: Hahn Visits the Ports of Haifa and Tel Aviv in Israel

Leahy (D-VT) 8/7: Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Ceasefire in Gaza

Nadler (D-NY) 8/6: Rep. Nadler from Israel: Time for Peace

Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 8/6: Ros-Lehtinen Opposes Property Confiscation Waiver for Nicaragua and Denounces Anti-Semitic Comments from Daniel Ortega

O’Rourke (D-TX) 8/6: Explaining his “no” vote on additional $$ for Iron Dome

Graves (R-GA) 8/5: Rep. Tom Graves Travels To Israel

Sherman (D-NY) 8/4: Press release: Bill to Bring Justice to Killers of Naftali Fraenkel Passes Senate, and Passes House Foreign Affairs Committee

Israel (D-NY) 8/4: Rep. Israel to Travel to Israel - Going to show support, learn more about Iron Dome Missile Defense System and Israel’s strategy to destroy Hamas’ tunnel system

Schneider (D-IL) 8/2: In support of Iron Dome funding

Pelosi (D-CA) 8/2: Pelosi Statement on House Passage of Iron Dome Legislation

Engel (D-NY) 8/1: Engel condemns Hamas for ceasefire breach, calls for release of abducted Israeli soldier


4.  From the Press

That Ted Cruz Walkout story you may have heard about:

The Week 9/12: Ted Cruz and the most cynical, despicable political stunt of the year

Daily Beast 9/12: Christians Enraged With Cruz Over Israel

The American Conservative 9/11: Ted Cruz Crashes Defense of Christians Summit (with transcript)

The Federalist 9/11: Ted Cruz Is No Hero For Insulting A Room Of Persecuted Christians

Wonkette 9/11: Ted Cruz Israel Speech Draws Heavenly Hosannas, By Which We Mean A Buncha Ay-rabs Booed Him Offstage

AP 9/11: Cruz walks out after pro-Israel comments draw boos

Washington Free Beacon 9/11: Ted Cruz Stands Up to ‘Hatred and Bigotry’ at Conference of Middle Eastern Christians

Washington Free Beacon 9/10: Cruz Headlines Conference Featuring Hezbollah Supporters


Other news:

JTA 9/11: House Jewish caucus shrinks, causing worries over influence

Al-Monitor 9/11: Islamic State takes pressure off Iran

Yeshiva World News 9/8: NORPAC Hosts House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (with photos)

The New Yorker 9/1: Friends of Israel - The lobbying group AIPAC has consistently fought the Obama Administration on policy. Is it now losing influence? (Cover story)

The Charleston Gazette 9/9: Editorial: is the Israel ­– U.S. bond fading?

JTA 9/9: Diverse Jewish voices converge to back US anti-Semitism bill

Israel Hayom 9/5: Former Republican presidential hopeful [Huckabee] plans pro-Israel rally in DC

The Jewish Press 9/3: ‘I Knew I Wanted To Help The Jewish People’: An Interview with Christians United for Israel’s Pastor John Hagee

Washington Free Beacon 9/2: Congress Targets Turkish President’s Anti-Semitism

The Algemeiner 8/29: Bipartisan Congressional Delegation Meets With Netanyahu in Jerusalem

FOX News 8/29: Will Jews turn on Obama, Dems in 2014 and turn out for GOP? (Zev Chafets)

JTA 8/28: Netanyahu meets with House Armed Services members

New York Daily News 8/26: New York politicians run for cover when Israeli town comes under Hamas rocket fire

The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel 8/21: Former Congressman [Steve Rothman] on the Iron Dome And Advice To Defense-Related Companies

Jewish Political Updates 9/19: GOP Senator Graham Reaffirms US-Israel Relationship, Calls UN Gaza Probe “A Joke”

Haaretz 8/18: U.S. military aid to Israel exceeds $100 billion

Arutz Sheva 8/17: Arab Rock-Throwers Ambush Visiting NYC Congress Hopeful Di Iorio

Arutz Sheva 8/14: 'Hamas Must Be Rooted Out and Destroyed' - NY Congressional candidate Bruce Blakeman tells Arutz Sheva Obama's administration is 'far-left,' vows to 'fight for Israel' in Congress.

Jerusalem Post 8/14: The US Congress must examine the United Nations Human Rights Council (by Richard Hellman, Chairman of CIPAC)

Haaretz 8/14: U.S. halts missile transfer requested by Israel

Boston Globe 8/13: Warren plans Israel trip after midterm elections

Washington Times 8/5: Partisan enthusiasm gap emerges over U.S. alliance with Israel