by Lara Friedman
[As we have over the last year, LobeLog is posting excerpts from the Legislative Round-up published weekly when Congress is in session by the inimitable Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now about what Congress is up to and what individual members are saying, particularly about Israel-Palestine and Iran.]
Bills, Resolutions, & Letters
(EXTEND IRAN SANCTIONS ACT) S. 2988: Introduced 5/25 by Kaine (D-VA) and Murphy (D-CT), “A bill to extend the sunset of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 in order to effectuate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in guaranteeing that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities.” Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Kaine and Murphy statements on the introduction of the bill are here, including, notably: “Administration officials have indicated that extending ISA, with its current waiver authorities, would not violate the JCPOA, as it imposes no new sanctions. Additionally, ISA is about more than Iran’s nuclear program, but also its support for international terrorism, which endangers the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and those countries with which the United States shares common strategic and foreign policy objectives. ISA addresses this issue by denying Iran money to finance international terrorism.” Read more on this at The Hill. Also see this piece at Al Monitor, indicating that the Obama Administration does not support this effort.
(NEW IRAN SANCTIONS) S. 2984 and HR 5333: Introduced 5/25 by Cornyn (R-TX) and Pompeo (R-KS), respectively (with no cosponsors on either bill), the “No Impunity for Iranian Aggression at Sea Act of 2016.” Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary. Note: Cornyn introduced this same text as an amendment to the Senate NDAA; his explanation of the measure is here. The hook for these bills is the assertion that Iran violated the Geneva Convention by stopping a U.S. military ship that had strayed into Iran’s territorial waters and to detain U.S. sailors [he does not say how he would feel if the roles were reversed], and that as a result, new sanctions on Iran must be imposed. Press release with quotes from both Pompeo and Cornyn is here.
(FY17 NDAA – SENATE VERSION) S. 2943: Introduced 5/18 by McCain (R-AZ), the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.” For Middle East provisions of the base bill, see the May 20 edition of the Round-Up. This bill is expected to come to the Senate floor this week. For Middle East-related amendments, see Section 2, below.
(FY17 Intelligence Authorization Act) HR 5077: Introduced 4/27 by Nunes (R-CA); reported out of the House Committee on Intelligence 5/18, and passed by the House on 5/24. The House report notes that the bill as adopted by the committee includes a provision offered by Rep. Murphy (D-FL), to “improve intelligence reporting with respect to Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” Murphy also issued a press release touting inclusion of the provision. That provision does not actually appear in the text of the bill posted online (classified?).
(FY17 Defense Appropriations Bill) S. XXXX: On 5/26, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up its version of the FY17 DOD Appropriations bill (appropriations bills must technically be initiated in the House, so this bill will be the text offered as a substitute to the House version, HR 5293 (covered in detail in the 5/20 edition of the Round-Up), when that bill comes to the Senate floor. Press releases touting passage of the bill by the committee were issued by both committee Republicans and Democrats, in both cases touting the bill’s inclusion of $600.7 million in funding for Israeli missile defense programs. Also see this press release from Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kirk (R-IL) claiming credit for the committee voting to include Israel funding.
(STATE AUTH BILL) S. 1635: On 5/26, the House Foreign Affairs Committee marked up and passed, as amended, its version of S. 1635, the “Department of State Operations Authorization and Embassy Security Act.” The Middle Eastelements in the Senate version were covered in the 5/5 edition of the Round-Up. Royce (R-CA) press release touting the committee’s approval of the bill is here; video of the markup is here; a section-by-section summary of the bill, as amended by the committee, is here. Full analysis of the bill will be included in the Round-Up when the full text of the bill is available. Notably, the committee added Sec. 311, “Policy regarding the UN Human Rights Council,” described as a “Sense of the Congress that the U.S. should use its voice, vote, and influence at the UN to improve the Human Rights Council (HRC) voting behavior vis-à-vis Israel (including dropping anti-Israel items from the HRC’s permanent agenda); to preclude from HRC membership countries that are subject to UN Security Council sanctions, under investigation for human rights abuses, supporters of international terrorism, or that the President has designated as a countries of particular concern for religious freedom; and to ensure that the HRC staff includes a percentage of U.S. citizens commensurate with the U.S. total assessed contribution to the UN general budget. Requires an annual report (for 6 years) on the status of US efforts to reform the HRC in these areas.” Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-FL) press release touting the provision (as her initiative) is here.
(DUE PROCESS BE DAMNED — NO ACCESS TO U.S. LEGAL REPRESENTATION FOR IRAN) H. Res. 748: Introduced 5/25 by Jones (R-NC) and no cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that United States law firms should not represent Iran in any judicial proceeding or other capacity to assist efforts of Iran to avoid paying compensation to victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism.” Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Jones’ press release is here.
(MORE OPPORTUNISTIC IRAN AMENDMENTS) HR 5055: Introduced 4/26 by Simpson (R-ID), the “Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017.” This bill was brought up on the House floor 5/25-5/26, and ultimately failed final passage by a vote of 112 – 305 (Roll no. 266). During consideration on the floor, a number of Iran-related amendments were offered. One of these amendments, adopted by a vote of 251-168, was H. Amdt. 1149, offered by DeSantis (R-FL) and stipulating that “None of the finds [sic] made available by this Act may be used to purchase heavy water from Iran.” Echoing the recent debate over this same provision (in the Senate E&W bill), DeSantis spoke on the House floor in defense of the amendment; Kaptur (D-OH) spoke in opposition. DeSantis’ press release touting passage of the amendment is here. Another five Iran-related amendments were offered by Babin (R-TX), all seeking (in slightly different formulas) to bar contracts with Iran. The 5th of these amendments was adopted, H. Amdt. 1133, was eventually adopted by a voice vote – inserting a new section: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be made available to enter into new contracts with, or new agreements for Federal assistance to, the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Babin spoke on the House floor in support of his amendment; Kaptur spoke against.
(EU: DESIGNATE HIZBALLAH A TERRORIST ORG) H. Res. 750: and S. Res. 482: Introduced 5/25 by Deutch (D-FL) and 9 cosponsors in the House, and 6/6 by Shaheen (D-NH) and 5 cosponsors in the Senate, “Urging the European Union to designate Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organization and increase pressure on it and its members.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Duetch press release ishere; Shaheen press release is here.
(KERRY – BEWARE OF FRENCH PEACE-MAKERS!) Perdue (R-GA) letter to Kerry: On 6/1, Perdue (R-GA) sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry laying out concerns about the Paris peace meeting and urging the Secretary to “work to ensure that it does not take steps that will, ultimately, set back the cause of peace.” The letter goes on to slam those attending the Paris meeting (which included most of the EU) as having “consistently, including recently, supported one-sided, anti-Israel efforts at the UN and its different agencies.” The letter closes by urging Kerry to “push back against any efforts to impose any plan upon the parties or endorse parameters for future negotiations.” Press release is here.
(IG MUST INVESTIGATE IRAN-TAPE-GATE) Royce letter to State IG: On 6/3, HFAC Chairman Royce (R-CA) sent a letter to the Department of State Inspector General Steve Linick calling on Linkick to investigate “the deliberate omission of portions of the Department’s ‘Daily Press Briefing’ on December 2, 2013 from the publicly available video record.” Press release is here.
(DEMANDING ANSWERS IN IRAN-TAPE-GATE) Chaffetz letter to Kerry: On 6/2, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Chaffetz (R-UT) sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry demanding answers to a list of specific questions about missing video footage.
(AIRBUS, BOEING – DON’T DO BUSINESS WITH THE AYATOLLAHS!) Reichert- McMorris Rogers- Newhouse letter: On 5/19 (not previously reported) three members of Congress from the state of Washington, Reps. Reichert (R-WA), McMorris Rogers (R-WA), and Newhouse (R-WA) sent a letter to the presidents of Boeing and Airbus President urging the companies to “halt current or reconsider potential sales of airplanes, parts, and other aircraft-related services to the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Press release here, including: “With Airbus already conducting business in Iran and Boeing working with the Administration to begin its own sales, an extremely dangerous precedent is being set for Western companies. We ask both companies to consider the profound moral implications of engaging a nation that has proven time and time again that it cannot be trusted.”
FY17 NDAA – In the Senate
Hold on to your hat! This week the Senate is set to start debating of its own version of the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – S. 2943. For Middle East provisions of the base bill, see the May 20 edition of the Round-Up. Like every year (and as seen last month in the House) this must-pass legislation is the target of a large number of opportunistic amendments, including amendments related to Iran, Israel and the Middle East. As of this writing, 381 amendments have been submitted; those amendments that relate to the Middle East are listed below. The Senate NDAA is expected to be debated on the Senate floor throughout this week; it remains to be seen which of these amendments will actually be considered – stay tuned.
(IRAN REPORT – EXTENSION) S. Amdt. 4105: Submitted 5/24 by Perdue (R-GA), to insert a new section: “Sec. 1227. Extension of reports on use of certain Iranian seaports by foreign vessels and use of foreign airports by sanctioned Iranian air carriers.”
(IRAN REPORT – NEW) S. Amdt. 4106: Submitted 5/24 by Perdue (R-GA), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Reports on use by the government of Iran of commercial aircraft and related services for illicit military or other activities.”
(IRAN REPORT – NEW) S. Amdt. 4107: Submitted 5/24 by Perdue (R-GA), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Department of Defense report on cooperation between Iran and the Russian Federation.”
(IRAN REPORT – NEW) S. Amdt. 4108: Submitted 5/24 by Perdue (R-GA), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Semiannual report on Iran and North Korea nuclear and ballistic missile cooperation.” This section includes a sense of Congress stipulating, among other things, that “the ballistic missile programs of Iran and North Korea represent a serious threat to allies of the United States in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, members of the Armed Forces deployed in those regions, and ultimately the United States.”
(ISRAEL REPORT/SUPPORT FOR MORE MILITARY AID) S. Amdt. 4127: Submitted 5/24 by Rubio (R-FL), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1277. Report on maintenance by Israel of a robust independent capability to remove existential security threats.” This new section includes a Sense of Congress stating that, “air refueling tankers and advanced bunker-buster munitions should immediately be transferred to Israel to ensure our democratic ally has an independent capability to remove any existential threat posed by the Iranian nuclear program and defend its vital national interests.” The amendment requires that the president submit to the specified congressional committees a report that: “(A) identifies all long range defensive capabilities and platforms that would contribute significantly to the maintenance by Israel of a robust independent capability to remove existential security threats, including nuclear and ballistic missile facilities in Iran, and defend its vital national interests; (B) assesses the availability for sale or transfer of items necessary for Israel to maintain the capability described in subparagraph (A), including the legal authorities available for making such transfers; and (C) describes the steps the President is taking to immediately transfer the items described in subparagraph (B) for Israel to maintain the capability described in subparagraph (A).” Notably, the report says nothing about whether Israel should be consulted in any way on what its actual needs are.
(IRAN REPORT – NEW) S. Amdt. 4130: Submitted 5/24 by Gardner (R-CO), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1641. Comptroller General of the United States report on Department of Defense critical telecommunications equipment or services obtained from suppliers closely linked to a leading cyber-threat actor.” The amendment defines the term “leading cyber-threat actor” to include means a country identified as a leading threat actor in cyberspace in the report entitled “Worldwide Threat the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the Russian Federation.
(STATE DEPT AUTHORIZATION ACT) S. Amdt. 4141: Submitted 5/24 by Corker (R-TN), this amendment is an effort to insert the entire FY16 State Department Authorization Act as a new Division (Division 6) of the NDAA (no doubt because the NDAA is must-pass legislation, while the State Authorization bill rarely passes into law). In terms of Middle East content, the amendment includes Sec. 6110, “United Nations Human Rights Council.” This section bars funding to the UNHRC unless the Secretary of State certifies that “participation in the United Nations Human Rights Council is in the national interest of the United States” AND that the UNHRC “is taking steps to remove ‘Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories’ and any other specific item targeted at Israel as permanent items on the United Nations Human Rights Council’s agenda.” The section permits the Secretary to waive the restrictions on an annual basis if he/she determines that “such a waiver is in the foreign policy or national security interests of the United States” and “submits a written explanation to the appropriate congressional committees of the reasoning behind such determination.” It also stipulates that “the funding limitation under subsection (a) shall terminate after the Secretary certifies pursuant to that subsection that ‘Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories’ and any other specific item targeted at Israel have been removed as permanent items on the United Nations Human Rights Council’s agenda.” NOTE: This HRC language appears to be similar to language added to the State Authorization bill by HFAC (discussed in Section 1, above).
(NEW FAR-REACHING IRAN SANCTIONS) S. Amdt. 4150: Submitted 5/25 by Ayotte (R-NH) and 18 GOP cosponsors, seeking to add a new subtitle to the bill, entitled: Iran Sanctions. This section is, in effect, the full text of S. 2725, “the Iran Ballistic Missile Sanctions Act of 2016,” introduced by Ayotte 3/17 and having 18 GOP cosponsors. Ayotte’s press release touting introduction of that bill is here (entitled, tellingly: “Would Require Hard-Hitting Sanctions on Every Sector of Iranian Economy Supporting Tehran’s Ballistic Missile Program”); her section-by-section explanation of the bill is here. Portman (R-OH) statement in support of S. 2725 is here; Rubio’s statement of support is here. Gardner’s (R-CO) press release is here.
(LIMITING CONTRACTS WITH THOSE WHO DO BUSINESS WITH IRAN) S. Amdt. 4162: Submitted 5/25 by Rubio (R-FL), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Limitation on use of funds to procure, or enter into any contract for the procurement of, any goods or services from persons that provide material support to certain Iranian persons.”
(KEEPING A SHARP EYE ON IRAN’S USE OF COMMERICAL AIRCRAFT) S. Amdt. 4164: Submitted 5/25 by Rubio (R-FL), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Report on use by the government of Iran of commercial aircraft and related services for illicit military or other activities.”
(FREEZING IRANIAN ASSETS) S. Amdt. 4165: Submitted 5/25 by Rubio (R-FL), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Clarification that freezing of assets of Iranian financial institutions includes assets in possession or control of a United States person pursuant to a u-turn transaction.”
(GIVING GREEN LIGHT TO ANTI-BDS/PRO-SETTLEMENTS LEGISLATION) S. Amdt. 4172: Offered 5/25 by Kirk (R-IL) and 14 cosponsors (9 GOP, 5 Democrats). The amendment seeks to attach to the NDAA a piece of blatantly non-germane free-standing legislation, S. 2531 (the “Combating BDS Act of 2016,” introduced 2/10) as a new subtitle. As noted in the 2/12 edition of the Round-Up, S. 2531 and its House companion, HR 4514 – and this amendment – explicitly define “targeting Israel” to include actions targeting Israeli-controlled territories – code for settlements. These bills actually go a step further than previous legislation in making clear that their purpose is defending settlements, referring to such actions that are “for purposes of coercing political action by, or imposing policy positions on, the Government of Israel.” These bills come in the context of continuing efforts at the State level to adopt legislation legitimizing settlements and sanctioning those who differentiate between Israel and settlements (under the guise of fighting BDS). A comprehensive look at state-level legislation is here. APN OPPOSES THIS LEGISLATIVE EFFORT IN ALL OF ITS FORMS – OUR POLICY REGARDING LEGISLATION TARGETING BDS, AS WELL AS LEGISLATION CONFLATING ISRAEL AND SETTLEMENTS, IS AVAILABLE HERE.
(NEW IRAN SANCTIONS) S. Amdt. 4201: Submitted 5/25 by Cornyn (R-TX), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1277. Imposition of sanctions on individuals who were complicit in violations of the Geneva Convention or the right under international law to conduct innocent passage.” As noted above, this is a version of free-standing legislation introduced in by Cornyn in the Senate (S. 2984) and Pompeo (R-KS) in the House (HR 5333), entitled the “No Impunity for Iranian Aggression at Sea Act of 2016.” Cornyn’s explanation of the measure is here. The hook is Cornyn’s assertion that Iran violated the Geneva Convention by stopping a U.S. military ship that had strayed into Iran’s territorial waters and to detain U.S. sailors [he does not say how he would feel if the roles were reversed], and that as a result, new sanctions on Iran must be imposed. Cornyn’s (R-TX) statement in support of the amendment is here.
(NEW IRAN SANCTIONS) S. Amdt. 4205: Submitted 5/25 by Rounds (R-SD) and Cruz (R-TX), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Imposition of sanctions with respect to significant activities undermining cybersecurity conducted on behalf of or at the direction of the government of Iran.”
(ADDITIONAL $$ FOR ISRAEL) S. Amdt. 4229: Submitted 5/25 by McCain (R-AZ), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1512. Increase in authorizations and authorizations of appropriations to meet unfunded priorities of the Armed Forces.” This amendment, notably, includes an “Increase in Authorization for OCO for Procurement, Defense-wide” of $303 million. Of that amount, the amendment earmarks fully $290 million in addition assistance for Israel: $120 million for theIsraeli Missile Defense Procurement Arrow 3 Upper Tier; $150 million for the Israeli Missile Defense Procurement David’s Sling; and $20 million for the Israeli Missile Defense Procurement Iron Dome. The amendment also provides for an “Increase in Authorization for OCO for RDT&E, Defense-wide,” of $29.9 million. The amendment earmarks that entire $29.9 million in additional assistance for Israel: $6.5 million for the Israeli Missile Defense Development Arrow; $4.1 million for the Israeli Missile Defense Development Arrow-3; and $19.3 million for the Israeli Missile Defense Development David’s Sling. NOTE: All of this is in addition to the funding for Israel in the base bill — $50 million for anti-tunnel cooperation; up to $42 million for Iron Dome; and $238.835 million for Israeli Cooperative program.
(LIMITING CONTRACTS WITH THOSE WHO DO BUSINESS WITH IRAN) S. Amdt. 4271: Submitted 5/26 by Cotton (R-AR), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Limitation on use of funds to procure, or enter into any contract for the procurement of, any goods or services from persons that provide material support to certain Iranian persons.” This looks a lot like Rubio’s amendment, S. Amdt. 4162.
(LIMITING MUNITIONS TO SAUDI ARABIA) S. Amdt. 4299: Submitted by Murphy (D-CT) and Paul (R-KY), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Limitations on transfer of certain United States munitions to Saudi Arabia.” Murphy press release is here.
(US TROOPS IN THE SINAI) S. Amdt. 4308: Submitted 5/26 by Cornyn (R-TX), to insert a new section, “Sec. ___. Treatment of certain individuals performing services in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.” Under this amendment, US troops in the Sinai would have the same status and benefits (notably tax-free pay) as troops serving in a declared combat zone. Cornyn’s (R-TX) statement in support of the amendment is here.
(REPORT ON MAHAN AIR) S. Amdt. 4309: Submitted 5/26 by Cornyn (R-TX), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Report on airports used by Mahan Air.” The report must include (among other things) a list of airports used by Mahan Air and “a determination regarding whether additional security measures should be imposed on flights to the United States that originate from that airport.” Cornyn’s (R-TX) statement in support of the amendment is here.
(NEW IRAN REPORT) S. Amdt. 4313: Submitted 5/26 by Peters (D-MI), to add a new section, “Sec. 1097. Report on defense nuclear nonproliferation research and development projects.” This report is entirely about the JCPOA, and must include, “(1) A description of ongoing, planned, and anticipated defense nuclear nonproliferation research and development projects and activities” and “(2) A strategy for improving arms control agreement verification capabilities, including improving the capability and accuracy of nonproliferation verification technologies that comply with the JCPOA.”
(COUNTERING IRAN SMUGGLING IN THE GULF) S. Amdt. 4314: Submitted 5/26 by Peters (D-MI), to add a new section, “Sec. 1227. Authority to provide assistance and training to increase maritime security and domain awareness of foreign countries bordering the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, or Mediterranean Sea.” The declared purpose of the section is “to authorize assistance and training to increase maritime security and domain awareness of foreign countries bordering the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, or the Mediterranean Sea in order to deter and counter illicit smuggling and related maritime activity by Iran, including illicit Iranian weapons shipments.” To achieve this, the amendment authorizes “training to the national military or other security forces of Israel, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar that have among their functional responsibilities maritime security missions” and “training to ministry, agency, and headquarters level organizations for such forces.” It earmarks $50 million for such training.
(LIMITING CONTRACTS WITH THOSE WHO DO BUSINESS WITH IRAN) S. Amdt. 4326: Submitted 5/26 by Rubio (R-FL), to insert a new section, “Sec. 1227. Limitation on use of funds to procure goods or services from persons that engage in significant transactions with certain Iranian persons.” This is another version of Rubio’s earlier amendment, S. Amdt. 4162, discussed above.
(LIMITATION ON AID TO SYRIAN OPPOSITION) S. Amdt. 4331: Submitted by Udall (D-NM) and Lee (R-UT), to add a new subparagraph at the end of section 1221, “Amounts authorized to be appropriated by this Act may not be expended for procuring or transferring lethal arms to the vetted Syrian opposition until the Secretary of Defense determines, and certifies in writing, that such arms are not being transferred to individuals or groups who are allied, working with, or otherwise associated with Al Qaeda and its affiliates, Al Nusrah, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or other terrorists groups identified by the United States Government.”
(NO GITMO DETAINEES TO IRAN) S. Amdt. 4370: Submitted 5/26 by Kirk (R-IL) to insert a new section, “Sec. 1026A. Additional countries under prohibition on use of funds to transfer or release to certain countries individuals detained at United States naval station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” The amendment adds Iran and Sudan to that list (hard to imagine anyone – the Sunni detainees at Gitmo, U.S. authorities, or the Shi’a government of Iran – interested in seeing Gitmo detainees transferred to Iran…)
5/24: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled, “Iran Nuclear Deal Oversight: Implementation and its Consequences (Part II).” On his Facebook page Chairman Royce (R-CA) announced the hearing, stating, “The Obama administration is turning a blind eye to Iran’s provocative acts and offering new concessions – well beyond the nuclear deal – to Tehran. Here’s what I’m doing about it.” Witnesses were: Stephen Mull, Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation (testimony); Thomas Countryman, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation (testimony); and Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (testimony). Royce’s opening statement is here. Video is here.
5/24: The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing entitled, “Understanding the Role of Sanctions Under the Iran Deal.” Witnesses were: Juan Zarate, Financial Integrity (testimony); Network Mark Dubowitz, FDD (testimony); Michael Elleman, IISS (testimony); and Elizabeth Rosenberg, CNAS (testimony).
5/24: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade held a hearing entitled, “The U.S.-Saudi Arabia Counterterrorism Relationship.” Witnesses were: Tim Roemer, Former 9/11 Commissioner (testimony); Simon Henderson, WINEP (testimony); Karen Elliot House, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (testimony); and Daniel Byman, Georgetown University (testimony). Video of the hearing is here.
5/25: The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing entitled, “Understanding the Role of Sanctions Under the Iran Deal: Administration Perspectives.” Witnesses were Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (testimony); and Stephen Mull, Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation (testimony). Video of the hearing is here.
5/25: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing entitled, “Tunisia’s Struggle for Stability, Security, and Democracy.” Witnesses were: John Desrocher, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Egypt and Maghreb Affairs (testimony); and Maria Longi, Deputy Assistant USAID Administrator for the Middle East (testimony). Video of the hearing is here.
On the Record
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 6/6: As Global Terror Threat Continues to Evolve, Iran Remains Foremost State Sponsor of Terror, Yet Administration Still Lacks Counter-ISIS Strategy and is Lax in Iran Sanctions Application (statement in response to publication of the State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2015)
Cornyn (R-TX) 6/6: “The White House prioritized its courtship with Iran, the No. 1 state sponsor of global terrorism, while choosing to ignore our friends and allies in the region. Turning its back on Israel to give Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief was a hallmark of President Obama’s tenure in the Oval Office, and Secretary Clinton said that she was proud to play a part in crafting that terrible nuclear deal.”
Hoyer (D-MD) 6/3: Hoyer Statement on Paris Conference (excerpt: “While U.S. participation in the talks taking place today in Paris may help shape the discussion, I remain very concerned that attendance by a cabinet-level U.S. official could send a signal that outside powers have a license to impose the contours of a settlement on Israelis and Palestinians. That must never be the case.”)
Cotton (R-AR) 6/2: Cotton Statement on Secretary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Leadership
Cotton (R-AR) 6/2: Cotton Demands Accountability at State Department for Iran Video Edits
Forbes (R-VA) 6/2: Deleting Iran Deal Footage Another Part of Administration’s Propaganda Campaign
Ryan (R-WI) 6/2: State Department Admits to Doctoring Video to Spin Iran Deal (authored by Michael Shapiro)
Sherman (D-CA) 6/2: Congressman Sherman Condemns Anti-Semitic Events at University of California, Irvine [including outraged letter to the Chancellor of UC Irvine)
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 6/2: Ros-Lehtinen Returns From Bipartisan Congressional Delegation to Israel and Cyprus
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 6/2: Kerry Attendance at Sham Paris Conference Lends Legitimacy, Signals Administration Willing to Break Long-Standing U.S. Policy on Direct Negotiations Between Israel and Palestinians
Zeldin (R-NY) 6/2: World Health Organization’s (WHO) Resolution Calling for Investigation into Israel is Destructive and Irresponsible
Nadler (D-NY) 5/31: Celebrating the 68th Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day (belatedly)
Pompeo (R-KS) 5/27: Pompeo Statement on [or more precisely, slamming] Release of NPR Ombudsman’s Report
Cardin (D-MD) 5/26: On Jewish Heritage Month, noting “We cannot understate the role that Israel plays in Jewish American society and in the lives of Jewish people around the world. Our homeland is the focal point of our religion and our culture. Further, our two nations are built on a common set of core democratic principles and representative government, but we have more than political philosophies in common; we share a strong belief in the promotion of equality, freedom, and tolerance. The United States will always stand by Israel, and we will always support the safety of the Israeli people.”
Markey (D-MA) 5/26: Defending the JCPOA (“President Obama did an excellent job in reaching a nuclear arms control agreement with Iran. That was important, because if Iran was right now on its way to the development of a nuclear weapon, there is no question that Saudi Arabia and other countries in that region would also be pursuing a nuclear weapon. We would then have a world where people were not listening to each other, where people would be threatening each other with annihilation, with total destruction.”)
Gohmert (R-TX) 5/26: Wow. You just have to read this one for yourself. Bottom line seems to be a warning that
Conyers (D-MI) 5/25: Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. for the Markup of H.R. 5203, the ‘‘Visa Integrity and Security Act of 2016” (excerpt: “Strengthening the security of the immigration and visa issuance process is a critical issue for all Americans. As one who believes our Nation should be a beacon of freedom and liberty, I very much appreciate the need to effectively combat terrorism, while maintaining our commitment to core values. Unfortunately, H.R. 5203, the ‘Visa Integrity and Security Act,’ fails to honor those core values.”
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 5/25: Tunisia’s Success is Vital to Our Own National Security Interests; I Urge the Administration to make Tunisia the Priority That it Warrants
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 5/25: Honoring a South Florida JCC, and in so doing defining Israel as: “the democratic Jewish State of Israel.”
Kirk (R-IL) 5/25: Kirk Statement on Single-Day Surge In Poorly Vetted Syrian Refugee Approvals
Peters (D-CA) 5/24: Extension of remarks on his NDAA amendment: “Iran is a chief sponsor of international terrorism and regularly threatens to obliterate Israel , our most important ally in the region. Those who supported the agreement last year to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon understood that the JCPOA does not eliminate all of Iran’s threats to the United States and our partners in the Middle East. My amendment would take further steps to support our allies in the region and crack down on Iranian aggression. By vocalizing our support for working with Israel , the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to build an integrated missile defense system, we can build off of the success of Israel’s existing missile defense network. I support the funding authorizations included in this year’s defense budget that will continue to support Israel’s missile defense program. Through a smart, targeted approach with our partners, we can continue to counter Iranian aggression and promote security. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.”
Forbes (R-VA) 5/20: First-person opinion piece – Stand with Israel (money quotes: “Israel is strong, because it has to be, and gentle, because that is its nature.”)
Lamborn (R-CO) 5/20: Oped in the Hill: Open letter to POTUS: White House manipulation and misrepresentation of the Iran deal narrative
Photo: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.