by Lara Friedman
As we have over the past two years, LobeLog is posting excerpts from the Legislative Round-up published weekly when Congress is in session by the inimitable Lara Friedman, previously of Americans for Peace Now and now the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. These weekly round-ups cover what Congress is up to and what individual members are saying, particularly about Israel-Palestine and Iran. For previous versions (going back many many years), see the Round-Up archive at Americans for Peace Now.
Bills, Resolutions & Letters
(MIDDLE EAST IN FY18 FOROPS APPROPS BILL) HR 3362: On 7/24, the House Appropriations Committee reported out of committee HR 3362, the “Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2018,” along with a report, H. Rept. 115-253. Full summary/analysis of Middle East-related provisions in Section 2, below.
**UPDATE** ON FAUX-PRO-ISRAEL, PRO-SETTLEMENTS BILL: HR 1697 & S. 720: These bills remain very much in the news, as more and more people realize (belatedly) what is actually going on here – a concrete threat to free speech coupled with an effort to replace 50 years of U.S. policy opposing settlements with a new policy of actively defending settlements and treating them as part of Israel. For the latest analysis/commentary from the ACLU (and others) see here. For the letter sent by Cardin (D-MD) and Portman (R-OH), purporting to teach the ACLU how to read legislation and on what does and does not threaten free speech (cuz, ya know, the ACLU doesn’t know much about these things!) see here.
And as a reminder, these bills do not come in isolation. They are part of a broader campaign to legislate against boycotts and other activism targeting both Israel and settlements.
- BREAKING NEWS: As noted on Section 2, below, the Appropriations Committee Report accompanying the House version of the FY18 ForOps bill includes a stipulation that, in effect, extends U.S. policy vis-à-vis the Arab League Boycott of Israel to BDS and boycotts of settlements.
- A compendium of bills that have been introduced in Congress so far as part of this campaign (2 of which were signed into law) is here.
- A compendium of bills that have been introduced in state legislatures (many of which have become law) is here.
- A review of bills that form another ominous arm of this campaign – bills that seek to legislate that anti-Israel criticism and activism is a form of anti-Semitism – is here.
[NEW IRAN SANCTIONS, PACKAGED WITH RUSSIA/NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS) HR 3364: Introduced 7/24 by Royce (R-CA) and sped directly to the House floor for a vote – cuz, when you’re adopting a bill with huge foreign policy/national security implications, why have hearings?), the extremely catchily titled, “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.” Passed in the House 7/25 by a vote of 419-3; passed on the Senate 7/27 by a vote of 98-2. Members of both chambers and from both sides of the aisle hailed passage of the bill and congratulated themselves on a job well done. The awkward statement issued by the Congressional Progressive Caucus following the vote sums up the difficulty that this vote posed for those members who were cognizant of dangers inherent in the bill:
“Sanctions can be an important tool, when used in conjunction with effective diplomacy, to deter threatening behavior. To that end, we agree with the underlying goals of H.R. 3364 – to prevent Iran and North Korea from developing destabilizing advanced ballistic missile technology and ensuring that Russia is deterred from interfering in our democracy.
“Although progressives voted for different reasons today, we are united in this: this legislation should not be interpreted as a green light for President Trump to undermine the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran or as a sign of congressional support for a reckless escalation of hostilities with Tehran.
“Unfortunately, President Trump’s advisors have demonstrated an eagerness to raise tensions with Iran. They’ve encouraged the White House to pursue a misguided arms deal with Saudi Arabia, to enflame a regional crisis with Qatar, and to bomb groups affiliated with Iran in Syria – all with one goal in mind: to push our country towards war.
“The American people support the Iran Deal because it is working. Through U.S. leadership, the world community came together to successfully freeze Iran’s nuclear program and ensure they are never able to pursue terrorism and regional instability with impunity because they are operating under the protection of a nuclear umbrella.
“The Iran Deal must be upheld because the alternative is war. Military intervention must always be reserved as a last resort. We will continue to respect the wishes of our constituents and promote our country’s long-term national security interests by vigorously opposing any action from the President that would lead us to another disastrous war in the Middle East.”
(SUPPORT US STATES SANCTIONING IRAN) HR 3425: Introduced 7/26 by DaSantis (R-FL) and 19 GOP cosponsors, “To amend the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 to secure the authority of State and local governments to adopt and enforce measures restricting investment in business enterprises in Iran, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Rules. DeSantis’ 7/26 press release touting the bill is here, and explaining that “…the State Sanctions Against Iranian Terrorism Act” is designed “to protect and support state-level sanctioning authority against Iran.”
(MIDDLE EAST ELEMENTS IN FY18 DoD APPROPS) HR 3219: Reported out of the House Appropriations Committee 7/13, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018,” considered on the House floor this week, and passed 7/27 by a mostly partly-line vote of 235-192. Middle East-elements in the bill are discussed in Section 3, below.
(IRAN – LET OUR PEOPLE GO) H. Res. 317: Introduced 5/4 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 43 cosponsors, “Calling for the unconditional release of United States citizens and legal permanent resident aliens being held for political purposes by the Government of Iran.” Brought to the House floor 7/26 under suspension of the rules and adopted by voice vote. Ros-Lehtinen statement on passage is here. Other statements: Royce (R-CA), Lowey (D-NY). NOTE: The text adopted on the floor was not the same as the text introduced on 5/4 – the text, as passed, is here. Floor statements are here.
(CHANGE THE DOS HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT TO SLAM PALESTINIANS) Roskam letter: On 7/20, Rep. Roskam (R-IL) to “strongly encourage” Secretary of State Tillerson to modify the State Department’s 2016 Country Reports on terrorism to, “to accurately characterize and hold accountable the root causes of Palestinian violence—PA leadership, and clarify the longstanding issue of Palestinian support for terrorism as the leading impediment to Israeli-Palestinian peace.” The demand is based on Roskam’s “concern about numerous mischaracterizations found in the 2016 State Department Country Reports on Terrorism, which undermine the prospect for Israeli-Palestinian peace and wrongly blame Israel for Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians...” Press release (dated 7/25) is here.
(BE TOUGHER ON IRAN) Blumenthal et al letter: On 7/25, Sens. Blumenthal (D-CT), Casey (D-PA), Coons (D-DE), and Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin expressing “grave concern regarding the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) decision to continue the suspension of counter measures against Iran concerning its money laundering and terrorist financing activities.” The Senators go on to “request the evidence used to justify the decision to continue suspending countermeasures against Iran…” Press release is here.
FY18 ForOps – House Version
On 7/24, the House Appropriations Committee reported out of committee HR 3362, the “Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2018,” along with a report, H. Rept. 115-253. Full summary/analysis of Middle East-related provisions (in both) is below.
TITLE I — DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND RELATED AGENCY
Broadcasting Board of Governors, international broadcasting operations: Perennial language providing $764,936,000 “to carry out international communication activities, and to make and supervise grants for radio and television broadcasting to the Middle East.” Provided that (among other things), “the BBG shall notify the Committees on Appropriations within 15 days of any determination by the Board that any of its broadcast entities, including its grantee organizations, provides an open platform for international terrorists or those who support international terrorism, or is in violation of the principles and standards set forth in subsections (a) and (b) of section 303 of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6202) or the entity’s journalistic code of ethics.”
Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund: Perennial provision stating: “For necessary expenses of the Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund, as authorized by section 633 of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2004 (22 U.S.C. 2078), the total amount of the interest and earnings accruing to such Fund on or before September 30, 2018, to remain available until expended.”
Israeli Arab Scholarship Program: Perennial provision stating: “For necessary expenses of the Israeli Arab Scholarship Program, as authorized by section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 (22 U.S.C. 2452), all interest and earnings accruing to the Israeli Arab Scholarship Fund on or before September 30, 2018, to remain available until expended.”
TITLE III — BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE
ECONOMIC SUPPORT FUNDS – ESF (Total: $ 1,041,761,000)
Details for ESF for Middle East countries are laid out in section 7041 of the bill, discussed below.
MIGRATION AND REFUGEE ASSISTANCE – MRA (Total: $877,802,000]
The bill stipulates that, “$7,500,000 shall be made available for refugees resettling in Israel.”
Report language accompanying the bill also stipulates that, “Not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committee on Appropriations, a report detailing country commitments and plans, including non-traditional donors, to assist in the Syrian refugee crisis. The report should also include the type and duration of the pledge, and whether such countries have followed through with their commitments. The report shall be submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.”
TITLE IV – INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE
NONPROLIFERATION, ANTI-TERRORISM, DEMINING AND RELATED PROGRAMS – NADR
The bill includes language (added last year) conditioning U.S. voluntary contributions to the IAEA on the Secretary of State inform Congress, “of information regarding any separate arrangements relating to the ‘Road-map for the Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Program’ between the IAEA and the Islamic Republic of Iran, in classified form if necessary, if such information becomes known to the Department of State.” This section also includes a perennial stipulation that “…funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for the IAEA unless the Secretary of State determines that Israel is being denied its right to participate in the activities of that Agency.”
PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS – PKO
The bill stipulates that, “…not less than $31,000,000 shall be made available for a United States contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai.” The Report states, “The Committee directs that funds made available above the level of the United States contribution are intended to address ongoing force protection requirements and emerging needs to protect and sustain the MFO mission in the Sinai.”
FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING – FMF (TOTAL: $5,625,863,000]
See Section 7041, below, for details of FMF provisions for all Near East countries except Israel. Israel alone is dealt with in this section, with the text earmarking, “not less than $3,100,000,000 shall be available for grants only for Israel.” The text includes perennial stipulations that “…funds appropriated under this heading for assistance for Israel shall be disbursed within 30 days of enactment of this Act” and “…to the extent that the Government of Israel requests that funds be used for such purposes, grants made available for Israel under this heading shall, as agreed by the United States and Israel, be available for advanced weapons systems, of which not less than $815,300,000 shall be available for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and defense services, including research and development.”
NOTE: As highlighted previously in the Round-Up, these little-remarked stipulations – early disbursal and permission for almost $1 billion of FMF to be spent inside Israel – are unique to Israel’s aid program. Both significantly increase the value of the assistance to Israel – and the cost of the assistance to the U.S. In all other cases, FMF is obligated and disbursed by the U.S. on an as-used basis, meaning that the U.S. either keeps the money in the U.S. Treasury until it is needed (where it earns interest) or if the money is not in the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. does not have to borrow it until it is needed (meaning less interest paid). In the case of Israel, the entire $3.1 billion is handed over in a lump sum within 30 days of the law passing, meaning that Israel can bank the money and earn interest on it (which it can spend however it likes). In addition, in all other cases, FMF must be spent inside the U.S. (unless a specific exemption is granted). The logic behind this is that FMF is not just a “gift” to a foreign country but is actually a form of investment in the U.S. economy. In Israel’s case, however, almost $1 billion of FMF may be used in Israel or other countries, rather than for the benefit of U.S. industry.
In addition, the report accompanying the bill states: “The Committee continues to provide unwavering support for Israel’s security, which is reflected by full funding for the United States-Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at $3,100,000,000.” Elsewhere in the Report the Committee notes: “…that the Committee recommendation supports the last installment of the current $30,000,000,000 ten-year United States-Israel MOU. The Committee further notes the continued importance of Israel as a major strategic partner and ally of the United States in an increasingly unstable and critical region of the world. The Committee recognizes that the United States-Israel partnership is integral to United States national security interests in the region and supports the continuation of the MOU framework to strengthen the strategic partnership to the benefit of both the United States and Israel. The Committee emphasizes that the MOU reflects the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel and to ensuring that Israel’s qualitative military edge and defense capabilities are maintained.”
TITLE VII – GENERAL PROVISIONS
Sec. 7007: Prohibition against direct funding for certain countries
This is perennial bill language banning aid to Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Syria, extending to loans, credits, insurance, and guarantees of the Export-Import Bank or its agents.
Sec. 7008: Coups d’état
This provision (which not too long ago caused Congress and the Obama Administration a headache over Egypt funding) states: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’état or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d’état or decree in which the military plays a decisive role.” It also states that “assistance may be resumed to such government if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office” and that the prohibition in this section “shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes.”
Sec. 7013: Prohibition on taxation of assistance
This is a perennial provision barring taxation of U.S. assistance. While this provision appears generic, the only recipient explicitly identified is the West Bank and Gaza. This reflects the genesis of the provision: the allegation in a previous year that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was taxing U.S. assistance provided to NGOs (and recall that under existing law direct aid to the PA is prohibited), thereby indirectly benefiting from US assistance designed specifically to bypass the PA.
Sec. 7015: Notification Requirements
Part (g) of this provision states that no funds appropriated under titles III through VI of this Act (pretty much all funds in the bill) may be obligated or expended for assistance to a laundry list of countries, “except as provided through regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.” From the Middle East the list includes (this year): Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and Yemen.
Sec. 7021: Prohibition on assistance to governments supporting international terrorism
This provision prohibits funding to any country “which provides lethal military equipment to a country the government of which the Secretary of State has determined supports international terrorism…” and prohibits bilateral assistance to any country supports international terrorism, gives sanctuary to terrorist, or is controlled by a terrorist organization. The section includes national security waivers for both restrictions.
Sec. 7032: Democracy Programs
Part (a) of this section earmarks not less than $2,308,517,000 for democracy programs, (as defined later in this provision). Part (e) states that funding and programs under this section “shall not be subject to the prior approval by the government of any foreign country.”
Sec. 7033: International Religious Freedom
Part (a) provides funding “Office of International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State, the Office of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia…”
Sec. 7034: Special Provisions
Part (n) of this section, entitled “Loan Guarantees and Enterprise Funds,” permits ESF funding to “be made available for the costs…of loan guarantees for Jordan, Ukraine, Iraq, and Tunisia, which are authorized to be provided…”
Sec. 7035: Arab league boycott of Israel
Perennial Sense of Congress opposing the Arab League boycott of Israel, and the secondary boycott of American firms that have commercial ties with Israel. It is worth noting that this longstanding feature of U.S. law focuses squarely on the Arab Boycott of ISRAEL. Nowhere does it define “Israel” to mean “Israel and territories controlled by Israel,” as is happening today in the context of various pieces of legislation adopted or under consideration at the State and Federal level.
****NOTE: NEW REPORT LANGUAGE EXTENDS ARAB LEAGUE BOYCOTT POLICY TO BDS AND BOYCOTTS OF SETTLEMENTS. The report language accompanying the bill states: “…The Committee is concerned about international efforts to stigmatize and isolate Israel through the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. The Committee directs, as part of the annual report to Congress on the Arab League Boycott of Israel, that the President add information about the BDS campaign, covering companies, international organizations, countries, and other organizations, including state investment vehicles, that are involved in promoting the movement, as well as specific steps the Department of State has taken and expects to take to discourage or end politically-motivated efforts to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel or Israeli entities.” ****
Sec. 7036: Palestinian statehood
Perennial provision barring assistance to a Palestinian state that does not meet a series of conditions (includes perennial Presidential waiver authority).
Sec. 7037: Restrictions concerning the Palestinian Authority
Perennial bill language barring U.S. funds for establishing any diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.
Sec. 7038: Prohibition on assistance to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation
Perennial bill language barring any U.S. assistance to the PBC.
Sec. 7039: Assistance for the West Bank and Gaza
Perennial section laying out far-reaching restrictions and conditions, as well as vetting, oversight and audit requirements, for U.S. assistance programs (carried out through non-governmental organizations) in the West Bank and Gaza.
Sec. 7040: Limitation on Assistance for the Palestinian Authority
Perennial bill language banning U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority, along with Presidential waiver authority. The section also includes a perennial subsection entitled “Prohibition to Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization” (lumping together a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization with the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people that is NOT on the list of U.S.-designated FTO since that list was first published in 1997). This subsection bars funding to the PLO and for salaries of PA personnel in Gaza or for Hamas or any entity “effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas.”
The formulation in this legislation is designed to make it difficult for the U.S. engage any kind of Palestinian power-sharing government that results from a future Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, or some other arrangements that lead to a national unity government or a mutually-agreed technocratic government (indeed, the text of the subsection evolved in recent years in response to Palestinian efforts to achieve such governments). The section does includes language of past bills stipulating that the prohibition does not apply if the President “certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government, including all of its ministers or such equivalent, has publicly accepted and is complying with the principles contained in section 620K(b)(1) (A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.” It also includes the proviso that, “the President may exercise the authority in section 620K(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as added by the Palestine Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-446) with respect to this subsection.” The latter prohibition does not apply if the President “certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government, including all of its ministers or such equivalent, has publicly accepted and is complying with the principles contained in section 620K(b)(1) (A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.” Also, “the President may exercise the authority in section 620K(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as added by the Palestine Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-446) with respect to this subsection.”
As a reminder: Section 620K(b)(1)(A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, reads as follows:
(b) Certification.–A certification described in subsection (a) is a certification transmitted by the President to Congress that contains a determination of the President that–
(1) no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority is effectively controlled by Hamas, unless the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority has–
(A) publicly acknowledged the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist; and
(B) committed itself and is adhering to all previous agreements and understandings with the United States Government, with the Government of Israel, and with the international community, including agreements and understandings pursuant to the Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (commonly referred to as the `Roadmap’).
And 620K(e) reads as follows:
(e) National Security Waiver.–
(1) In general.–Subject to paragraph (2), the President may waive subsection (a) with respect to-
(A) the administrative and personal security costs of the Office of the President of the Palestinian Authority;
(B) the activities of the President of the Palestinian Authority to fulfill his or her duties as President, including to maintain control of the management and security of border crossings, to foster the Middle East peace process, and to promote democracy and the rule of law; and
(C) assistance for the judiciary branch of the Palestinian Authority and other entities.
(2) Certification.–The President may only exercise the waiver authority under paragraph (1) after–
(A) consulting with, and submitting a written policy justification to, the appropriate congressional committees; and
(B) certifying to the appropriate congressional committees that–
(i) it is in the national security interest of the United States to provide assistance otherwise prohibited under subsection (a); and
(ii) the individual or entity for which assistance is proposed to be provided is not a member of, or effectively controlled by (as the case may be), Hamas or any other foreign terrorist organization.
(3) Report.—Not later than 10 days after exercising the waiver authority under paragraph (1), the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report describing how the funds provided pursuant to such waiver will be spent and detailing the accounting procedures that are in place to ensure proper oversight and accountability.
(4) Treatment of certification as notification of program change.–For purposes of this subsection, the certification required under paragraph (2)(B) shall be deemed to be a notification under section 634A and shall be considered in accordance with the procedures applicable to notifications submitted pursuant to that section.
Sec. 7041: Middle East and North Africa
This section consolidates aid provisions for the entire Middle East, except for Israel.
Sec. 7041 (a). Egypt
The funding table contained in the report accompanying the breaks down FY17 funding for Egypt as follows: ESF: $150 million; INCLE: $2 million; NADR: $3 million; IMET: $1.8 million; FMF: $1.3 bllion (Total: $1,456,800,000)
The report accompanying the bill notes that the Committee “maintains strong support for Egypt’s security and economic needs by providing $1,456,000,000 for assistance for Egypt and notes that sustaining security cooperation with Egypt is critical for stability in the region.”
Overall conditions on aid: This section states funds appropriated by this Act that are available for assistance for Egypt “may be made available notwithstanding any other provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt, except for section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and may only be made available for assistance for the Government of Egypt if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government is—(A) sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States; and (B) meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.” The bill also requires a quarterly report to Congress on steps taken by the Government of Egypt to “(i) advance democracy and human rights in Egypt, including to govern democratically and protect the rights of religious minorities and women; (ii) implement reforms that protect freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, including the ability of civil society organizations and the media to function without interference; and (iii) improve the transparency and accountability of security forces.”
Note: Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 states that “No assistance shall be furnished under this Act or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.” It adds that this prohibition “shall not apply if the Secretary determines and reports to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the Committees on Appropriations that the government of such country is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.” Given certain events in Egypt in recent months (perhaps most glaringly the torture/murder of an Italian graduate student), inclusion of this reference is important.
ESF: The bill stipulates that “not less than $150,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Egypt…Provided, That such funds may be made available for democracy programs and for development programs in the Sinai: Provided further, That such funds may not be made available for cash transfer assistance or budget support unless the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Egypt is taking consistent and effective steps to stabilize the economy and implement market-based economic reforms.” The bill further stipulates that with respect to ESF the Secretary of State shall withhold from an amount “that the Secretary determines to be equivalent to that expended by the United States Government for bail, and by nongovernmental organizations for legal and court fees, associated with democracy-related trials in Egypt until the Secretary certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt has dismissed the convictions issued by the Cairo Criminal Court on June 4, 2013, in “Public Prosecution Case No. 1110 for the Year 2012.”
The Report also states: “The Committee directs that not less than $35,000,000 of the funds made available for assistance for Egypt under Economic Support Fund should be made available for higher education programs, including not less than $10,000,000 for scholarships at not-for-profit institutions for Egyptian students with high financial need. The Committee encourages the USAID Administrator to implement programs that assist orphans and vulnerable children in Egypt, including children from religiously diverse populations.”
FMF: The bill allocates up to $1,300,000,000 in FMF for assistance for Egypt, to remain available until September 30, 2019 (and stipulates that these funds may be transferred to the interest bearing account), without any conditions.
Sec. 7041 (b) Iran
The report language accompanying the bill notes that, “The Committee is deeply concerned about the nuclear ambitions of Iran and the resulting threat to the United States and our allies. The Committee recommendation continues the conditions and reporting requirements from the prior year related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and other matters related to sanctions on Iranian entities.”
This section states that funding in the bill (under Diplomatic and Consular Programs, ESF, and NADR) shall be used by the Secretary of State to: “(A) to support the United States policy to prevent Iran from achieving the capability to produce or otherwise obtain a nuclear weapon; (B) to support an expeditious response to any violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231; (C) to support the implementation and enforcement of sanctions against Iran for support of terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile and weapons proliferation; and (D) for democracy programs for Iran, to be administered by the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State.” It also states that the terms and conditions of paragraph (2) of section 7041(c) in division I of PL 112-74 shall remain in effect. These are:
(2) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act under the heading “Export-Import Bank of the United States” may be used by the Export-Import Bank of the United States to provide any new financing (including loans, guarantees, other credits, insurance, and reinsurance) to any person that is subject to sanctions under paragraph (2) or (3) of section 5(a) of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-172).
Finally, this section requires the Secretary of State to submit two reports to Congress:
(A) the semi-annual report required by section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (42 U.S.C. 2160e(d)(4)).
(B) Not later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act, a report “on the status of the implementation and enforcement of bilateral United States and multilateral sanctions against Iran and actions taken by the United States and the international community to enforce such sanctions against Iran: Provided That the report shall also include any entities involved in providing significant support for the development of a ballistic missile by the Government of Iran after October 1, 2015, and note whether such entities are currently under United States sanctions…”
The report also notes that, “For the purposes of the report required by subsection (b)(3)(B), the term ‘international community’ shall mean the UN, the PRC, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.”
Sec. 7041 (d) Jordan
The funding table in the report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Jordan as follows: ESF – $812.4 million; NADR – $13.6 million; IMET – $4 million; FMF – $450 million (Total: $1.28 billion).
The bill states: “Of the funds appropriated by this Act under titles III and IV, not less than $1,280,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Jordan, of which not less than $475,000,000 shall be for budget support for the Government of Jordan.”
The report notes that the Committee, “strongly supports Jordan by providing not less than $1,280,000,000 to meet economic and security needs and to address the extraordinary strain on Jordan from unrest in the region as the country continues to host significant numbers of refugees.” It later states: “The Committee notes the importance of the relationship with the Kingdom of Jordan and the strong leadership that Jordan continues to play in advancing peace and stability in the region and in the ongoing campaign to defeat ISIS. The United States should continue to support critical economic aid and to provide the assistance needed to ensure Jordan’s success in coalition operations, including to strengthen Jordan’s borders with Iraq and Syria.”
Sec. 7041 (e) Lebanon
This bill text continues the prohibition on funding “for the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) or the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) if the ISF or the LAF is controlled by a foreign terrorist organization, as designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189).” It stipulates that INCLE and FMF funding “may be made available for programs and equipment for the ISF and the LAF to address security and stability requirements in areas affected by the conflict in Syria, following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.” And it provides that FMF for Lebanon “may be made available only to professionalize the LAF and to strengthen border security and combat terrorism, including training and equipping the LAF to secure Lebanon’s borders, interdicting arms shipments, preventing the use of Lebanon as a safe haven for terrorist groups, and to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701…”
The report accompanying the bill notes: “…The Committee intends that assistance provided to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) will not be used against Israel, and such assistance will not affect Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. The Committee notes that section 7041(e) prohibits funds for the Lebanese Internal Security Forces or the LAF if either organization is controlled by a foreign terrorist organization and the Committee directs the Secretary of State to consult with the Committee regarding the rigorous implementation of this provision. Not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Committee further directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations, in classified form if necessary, on the performance of the LAF, including an assessment of the operational capabilities of such forces and how the training, curriculum, and equipment provided by the United States contributes to those capabilities. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to regularly consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the activities of the LAF and assistance provided by the United States.”
In addition, the Report stipulates: “The Committee includes not less than $12,000,000 for scholarships for Lebanese students with high financial need to attend not-for-profit educational institutions in Lebanon that meet standards comparable to those required for American accreditation. Students graduating from public and private high schools in Lebanon should be eligible for scholarships if they demonstrate financial need, have strong academic records, and show potential to contribute to the long-term political, economic, and social development of Lebanon. The Committee directs that these funds be awarded through an open and competitive process.”
It further notes that: “The Committee includes $2,000,000 to continue the university pilot program for refugees in Lebanon. Such funds are in addition to funds made available for assistance for Lebanon under this heading. The USAID Administrator is directed to consult with the Committees on Appropriations on an ongoing basis on how the program will be administered consistent with the Lebanon scholarship program at not-for-profit educational institutions in Lebanon that meet the standards required for American accreditation, and other matters related to implementation.”
Sec. 7041 (g) Morocco
The funding table in the report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Morocco as follows: ESF – $20 million; INCLE – $5 million; NADR – $1.5 million; IMET – $2 million; and FMF – $10 million (Total: $38.5 million)
This section stipulates that “Funds appropriated under title III of this Act that are made available for assistance for Morocco shall also be made available for assistance for any region or territory administered by Morocco, including the Western Sahara…”
The report language states that, “The Committee notes the important role the countries of North Africa play with respect to global security and stability. Therefore the bill includes a new provision requiring a strategy from the Secretary of State on how diplomatic engagement and assistance will be prioritized for these countries. The Committee recommendation rejects the proposed cuts to Tunisia and Morocco and includes not less than the fiscal year 2017 level.” It later notes: “The Committee expects funds to support democratic reforms and economic development. The Committee remains concerned by the failure to resolve the longstanding dispute over the Western Sahara and the protracted refugee situation in the Polisario-run camps near Tindouf, Algeria. The Committee believes that the Secretary of State should pursue a negotiated settlement to the dispute, consistent with United States policy to support a solution to the issue based on a formula of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. These redoubled diplomatic efforts can lead to a realistic and lasting settlement, the completion of a UN peacekeeping mission that has existed for over 25 years, and a more stable region. The Committee also encourages the Administration to support private sector investment in the Western Sahara. The Committee recommendation includes a requirement to consult with the Committees on Appropriations on all of these issues not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act.”
Sec. 7041 (h) Refugee Assistance in North Africa [new category]
This subsection stipulates that “The Secretary of State, in consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, shall take all practicable steps to strengthen monitoring of the delivery of humanitarian assistance provided for refugees in North Africa, including the establishment of registration systems where they do not exist and any other efforts to ensure that all vulnerable refugees are receiving such assistance.”
Sec. 7041 (i) Strategy Requirement [new category]
This subsection stipulates that “Not later than 60 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a strategy for United States engagement in North Africa, which shall include detailed information on how diplomatic engagement and assistance will be prioritized for such region, including to address economic and security needs”
Sec. 7041 (j) Syria
This bill text states that non-lethal assistance may be made available to Syria, notwithstanding any other provision of law, for programs that satisfy a list of goals laid out in the text (related to governance, empowerment of women, democracy and the rule of law, helping the Syrian opposition, helping Syrian civil society, promoting stability, fighting human rights abuses, helping refugees, assisting vulnerable populations, preserving the cultural identity and heritage sites of the people of Syria, and countering extremism in Syria). It also lays out requirements with respect to U.S. strategy in Syria, monitoring/oversight, and consultation/notification of Congress.
The report accompanying the bill notes (among other things) that “The Committee remains concerned about the lengthy displacement of Syrians and the ongoing burden they face, as well as the continued strain Syrian refugees are placing on host communities. The Committee urges the Department of State to continue to: (1) assist host countries expand their national systems to accommodate refugee needs; (2) increase host country capacity to deliver basic services to their own citizens; (3) strengthen the ability of local governments to respond to the refugee influx; (4) employ policies and programs to close gaps in distribution of need-based aid to at-risk minority populations; and (5) ensure that refugees have freedom of movement and meaningful access to economic opportunity.”
Sec. 7041 (k) Tunisia
The funding table in the report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Syria as follows: ESF – $79 million; INCLE – $13 million; NADR – $6.1 million; IMET – $2.3 million; FMF – $65 million (total: $165.4 million)
This subsection states: “Of the funds appropriated under titles III and IV of this Act, not less than $165,400,000 shall be made available for assistance for Tunisia.
The report language states that, “The Committee notes the important role the countries of North Africa play with respect to global security and stability. Therefore the bill includes a new provision requiring a strategy from the Secretary of State on how diplomatic engagement and assistance will be prioritized for these countries. The Committee recommendation rejects the proposed cuts to Tunisia and Morocco and includes not less than the fiscal year 2017 level.”
Sec. 7041 (l) West Bank and Gaza
General: Part 1 of this section requires that prior to the obligation of any funds for the West Bank and Gaza, the Secretary of State shall report to Congress that the purpose of such assistance is to: “(A) advance Middle East peace; (B) improve security in the region; (C) continue support for transparent and accountable government institutions; (D) promote a private sector economy; or (E) address urgent humanitarian needs.”
Palestinians at the UN & ICC: Part 2 lays out further limitations on U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority. Part 2(A) bars any funding for the PA if “the Palestinians obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians” or if “the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court (ICC) judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.” This section provides the Secretary of State the authority to waive the ban on assistance to the PA in the case where the Palestinians gain status at the UN if he “certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that to do so is in the national security interest of the United States, and submits a report to such Committees detailing how the waiver and the continuation of assistance would assist in furthering Middle East peace.” No waiver is provided if the Palestinians go to the ICC.
Kicking the PLO Office Out of the U.S.: Part 2(B) limits the President’s ability to waive longstanding (and entirely anachronistic) legislation barring the PLO from having any representation in the United States. Where for decades Congress granted the President a “clean” national security or national interests waiver of that prohibition (contained in section 1003 of Public Law 100-204), in recent years Congress moved to make such waiver contingent on the President certifying that the Palestinians have not, after the date of enactment of this Act, “obtained in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof the same standing as member states or full membership as a state outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians” or “taken any action with respect to the ICC that is intended to influence a determination by the ICC to initiate a judicially authorized investigation, or to actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”
If the president cannot make that two-part certification, he must wait at least 90 days (during which, presumably, the PLO office has to be shut down), and then he may waive the law requiring him to kick the PLO out of the U.S. – but only for a limited period of time, and only if he can certify that “the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel” [a requirement whose fulfillment is not wholly under the Palestinians’ control].
No Funding for Families of Prisoners: Part 3 of this section requires the Secretary of State to “reduce the amount of assistance made available by this Act under the heading `Economic Support Fund’ for the Palestinian Authority by an amount the Secretary determines is equivalent to the amount expended by the expended by the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and any successor or affiliated organizations with such entities as payments for acts of terrorism by individuals who are imprisoned after being fairly tried and convicted for acts of terrorism and by individuals who died committing acts of terrorism during the previous calendar year.” It also requires the Secretary to report to Congress “on the amount reduced for fiscal year 2018 prior to the obligation of funds for the Palestinian Authority.” It further stipulates that the “the report required by the previous proviso shall also include steps taken to prevent any such payments.”
The report accompanying the bill notes that, “Concurrent with the submission of the report required by section 7041(j)(3) of the act regarding payments for acts of terrorism, the Secretary of State shall submit a report describing actions the Department of State has taken to encourage the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization to terminate such payments.”
Security report: Part 4 states that “The reporting requirements contained in section 1404 of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Law 110-252) shall apply to funds made available by this Act, including a description of modifications, if any, to the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority.”
As a reminder, Section 1404 of PL 110-252 states: “Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act and 180 days thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations a report on assistance provided by the United States for the training of Palestinian security forces, including detailed descriptions of the training, curriculum, and equipment provided; an assessment of the training and the performance of forces after training has been completed; and a description of the assistance that has been pledged and provided to Palestinian security forces by other donors: Provided, That not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall report to the Committees on Appropriations, in classified form if necessary, on the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority.”
Incitement report (NEW): Part 5 of this section is new (this section just gets longer and longer every year), requiring, “Not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to counter incitement of violence against Israelis and to promote peace and coexistence with Israel.”
The report language accompanying the bill notes: “The Committee recommendation maintains numerous restrictions on assistance for the Palestinian Authority (PA), including prohibiting funds if there is a Palestinian government formed through an agreement with Hamas, or if the PA is not acting to counter incitement of violence against Israelis. The bill also includes a requirement to reduce any funding by an amount equivalent to that expended by the PA, Palestine Liberation Organization, or any affiliated organization, as payments to prisoners who committed acts of terrorism. As a result of these conditions, no economic assistance has been provided directly to the PA since fiscal year 2013, and funds provided for other programs in the West Bank and Gaza have been significantly reduced.”
Sec. 7048: United Nations
No $$ for agencies headed by bad guys: Part (b) of this section prohibits funding for anything having to do with any agency, body, or commission associated with the UN presided over by a country that the Secretary of State has determined, according to U.S. law, has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. The section also permits the Secretary of State to waive this ban if it is in the national interest of the United States.
Pressure on UN Human Rights Council (over Israel): Part (c) permits funding for the United Nations Human Rights Council only if the Secretary reports to Congress that “participation in the Council is in the national interest of the United States and that the Council is taking credible steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item…” including in that report “a description of the national interest served and a description of steps taken to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item” as well as reporting to Congress “not later than September 30, 2018, on the resolutions considered in the United Nations Human Rights Council during the previous 12 months, and on steps taken to remove Israel… as a permanent agenda item.”
Note: The report accompanying the bill states: “The Committee is concerned about the credibility and effectiveness of UNHRC and notes with disappointment the ascension to UNHRC of countries with poor human rights records. The Committee is also concerned with the continued, disproportionate focus of UNHRC on Israel. The Committee recommendation includes modified language in section 7048(c) of this Act prohibiting funds to UNHRC unless certain conditions are met. The Committee notes with concern the passage by the UNHRC of resolution A/HRC/31/L.39, which is counterproductive to achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Committee does not expect the United States to participate in the implementation of this resolution [which – gasp – calls on states to differentiate between Israel and settlements] and directs the Secretary of State to urge the UNHRC and other countries to do the same. The Committee directs the Secretary to work with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to minimize the impact of the compilation of the database called for under that resolution [a database of businesses active in settlements].
Pressure on UNRWA: Part (d) bars funding to UNRWA until the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations, in writing, that UNRWA is meeting a list of conditions:
“(1) utilizing Operations Support Officers in the West Bank, Gaza, and other fields of operation to inspect UNRWA installations and reporting any inappropriate use;
“(2) acting promptly to address any staff or beneficiary violation of its own policies (including the policies on neutrality and impartiality of employees) and the legal requirements under section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961;
“(3) implementing procedures to maintain the neutrality of its facilities, including implementing a no-weapons policy, and conducting regular inspections of its installations, to ensure they are only used for humanitarian or other appropriate purposes;
“(4) taking necessary and appropriate measures to ensure it is operating in compliance with the conditions of section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and continuing regular reporting to the Department of State on actions it has taken to ensure conformance with such conditions;
“(5) taking steps to ensure the content of all educational materials currently taught in UNRWA-administered schools and summer camps is consistent with the values of human rights, dignity, and tolerance and does not induce incitement;
“(6) not engaging in operations with financial institutions or related entities in violation of relevant United States law, and is taking steps to improve the financial transparency of the organization; and
“(7) in compliance with the United Nations Board of Auditors’ biennial audit requirements and is implementing in a timely fashion the Board’s recommendations.
Report language accompanying the bill states: “The Committee directs that in reviewing whether UNRWA is meeting the requirements of paragraph (2), the Secretary of State shall ensure that UNRWA’s employment policies prohibit staff from being members of militant political parties or a Foreign Terrorist Organization designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, including members of Hamas.” It also states: “House Report 114-693 directed the Secretary of State to include in the annual report required by section 4 of the United Nations Participation Act of 1945 (Public Law 79-264) a justification of why it is in the national interest of the United States to provide funds to UNRWA. It further directed the Secretary to include in the justification an analysis of the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, that used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region. In addition, the Committee further urges the Secretary of State, in consultation with the United States Ambassador to the UN and other donor countries, to review UNRWA’s contemporary mandate as approved by the UN General assembly and report back to the Committees on Appropriations about the findings of that review.”
Pressure on UNESCO & Other UN Agencies (over Israel): Part (g) requires reporting to Congress on any U.S. contributions to international organizations that are withheld due to any provision of law [for example, U.S. funding to UNESCO, barred because UNESCO admitted the Palestinians as full members]. Notably, the report accompanying the bill states: “The Committee notes with disappointment decision 41 COM 8C.1 adopted by UNESCO on July 7, 2017, which is one-sided, runs contrary to history, and is not conducive towards peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.” [Notably because (a) the resolution was objectively speaking non-objectionable, and (b) the U.S. has effectively dropped out of UNRWA, leaving it zero leverage in that body and in a very odd place criticizing its actions.]
In addition, the Report accompanying the states: “The Committee remains concerned with continued anti-Israel bias at the UN and strongly endorses the Department of State’s withholding of a proportionate share of the costs to such UN entities deemed to be anti-Israeli. Pursuant to Public Law 98-164, as amended, the Committee notes that in fiscal year 2016 the Secretary of State withheld funding to the following: the Division for Palestinian Rights in the Department of Political Affairs; the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories. The Committee supports this action and directs the Department to include a description of any anti- Israel activities of these entities in the annual report submitted pursuant to section 4(a) of Public Law 79-264 on United States participation in the UN.”
Sec. 7054: Landmines and Cluster Munitions
Perennial language barring military assistance, expert licenses, or sale of cluster munitions and cluster munitions technology unless the submunitions involved “do not result in more than 1 percent unexploded ordnance” and the applicable assistance/sale agreement “specifies that the cluster munitions will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians” or “such assistance, license, sale, or transfer is for the purpose of demilitarizing or permanently disposing of such cluster munitions.”
Sec. 7068: Commercial Leasing of Defense Articles
Perennial provision: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, and subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations, the authority of section 23(a) of the Arms Export Control Act may be used to provide financing to Israel, Egypt, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and major non-NATO allies for the procurement by leasing (including leasing with an option to purchase) of defense articles from United States commercial suppliers, not including Major Defense Equipment (other than helicopters and other types of aircraft having possible civilian application), if the President determines that there are compelling foreign policy or national security reasons for those defense articles being provided by commercial lease rather than by government-to-government sale under such Act…”
Sec. 7076 (b): Spend Plans
This paragraph notes that: “Prior to the initial obligation of funds, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations a detailed spend plan for funds made available by this Act, for— (A) assistance for Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, and the West Bank and Gaza …”
Sec. 7078: Global Internet Freedom
Part (B)(1)(b) of this subsection stipulates that funds made available under this section shall be “for programs to implement the May 2011, International Strategy for Cyberspace; the Department of State International Cyberspace Policy Strategy required by section 402 of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (division N of Public Law 114–113); and the comprehensive strategy to promote Internet freedom and access to information in Iran, as required by section 414 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (22 U.S.C. 8754).”
Other Report Language
Reconciliation programs: “The Committee provides $26,000,000 under this heading and Economic Support Fund to support people-to-people reconciliation programs that bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds from areas of civil strife and war, of which $10,000,000 shall be for reconciliation activities between Israelis and Palestinians. Funds shall be awarded through a competitive grant process. The Committee expects the Department of State and USAID to ensure that funds provided for reconciliation programs in the Middle East include a rigorous vetting and evaluation process and are consistent with United States foreign policy objectives in the region.”
Yemen: There are no earmarks in the bill for Yemen, but the Report notes, “The Committee notes the significant health and humanitarian needs in Yemen and expects funds to be made available for such purposes.”
Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) scholarship program: “The Committee includes $12,000,000 to continue the MEPI scholarship program.”
Middle East Regional Cooperation Program: “The Committee includes $5,000,000 for the Middle East Regional Cooperation Program, which is the same as the fiscal year 2017 level.”
Near East Regional Democracy: “The Committee includes $32,000,000 for the Near East Regional Democracy program, which is the same as the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. The Committee expects a portion of the funds provided above the request to be used to support programs to increase the participation of women in politics, including as candidates in elections, and in consultation with diaspora communities in the United States.”
FY18 DoD Approps – House Version
On 7/13, the House Appropriations Committee reported out HR 3219, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018.” That bill was considered on the House floor this week, and was passed 7/27 by a mostly partly-line vote of 235-192. NOTE: This bill ultimately became the vehicle for a collection of appropriations bills: DoD, the Legislative Branch, Military Construction & Veterans Affairs, Energy & Water, and Homeland Security, and was hence nicknamed the FY18 “security-bus” (its formal title is the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018” – seriously, you can’t make stuff like that up).
As noted in the report accompanying the base DoD bill, the bill includes “$332,000,000 for the Israeli Cooperative Programs under the Missile Defense Agency, an increase of $290,000,000 above the President’s request” and “$373,800,000 for the Israeli Cooperative Program under the Missile Defense Agency, an increase of $268,446,000 above the President’s request” (this is, as always, in addition to the regular military assistance for Israel – $3.1 billion this year – in the ForOps Approps bill). The DoD Approps bill earmarks these funds for Israel as follows:
- $92 million “shall be 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…”
- $221.5 million “shall be for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program, including cruise missile defense research and development under the SRBMD program, of which $120,000,000 shall be for co-production activities of SRBMD missiles in the United States and in Israel to meet Israel’s defense requirements consistent with each nation’s laws, regulations, and procedures, subject to the U.S.-Israeli co-production agreement for SRBMD, as amended”
- $205 million “shall be for an upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture, of which $120,000,000 shall be for co-production activities of Arrow 3 Upper Tier missiles in the United States and in Israel to meet Israel’s defense requirements consistent with each nation’s laws, regulations, and procedures, subject to the U.S.-Israeli co-production agreement for Arrow 3 Upper Tier”
- $105 million, “shall be for testing of the upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture in the United States”
- $82.3 million “shall be for the Arrow System Improvement Program including development of a long range, ground and airborne, detection suite.”
Other Middle East-related provisions in the bill:
- 9018 bars use of any funds from the bill “with respect to Syria in contravention of the War Powers Resolution…”
- Under funding provided for the “Counter-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Train and Equip Fund”, the bill provides that “these funds may be used in such amounts as the Secretary of Defense may determine to enhance the border security of nations adjacent to conflict areas including Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia resulting from actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant…” It also provides that, “the Secretary of Defense shall ensure that prior to providing assistance to elements of any forces or individuals, such elements or individuals are appropriately vetted, including at a minimum, assessing such elements for associations with terrorist groups or groups associated with the Government of Iran…”
- Under funding provided for “Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide”, the bill provides that “funds provided under this heading may be used to support the Government of Jordan, in such amounts as the Secretary of Defense may determine, to enhance the ability of the armed forces of Jordan to increase or sustain security along its borders…”
- Elsewhere in the bill, Sec. 9011 states that, “Up to $500,000,000 of funds appropriated by this Act for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in “Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide” may be used to provide assistance to the Government of Jordan to support the armed forces of Jordan and to enhance security along its borders.”
Amendments related to Middle East that were made in order:
- DeSantis (R-FL) – Prohibits funds from being used to purchase heavy water from Iran (adopted by voice vote). DeSantis press release is here, noting, “I applaud my colleagues for voting to put this prohibition into law and ending the flow of taxpayer dollars to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”
- Davidson (R-OH) – Prohibits use of funds with respect to military action in Yemen to the extent that such action is inconsistent with the War Powers Resolution. (rejected by voice vote)
7/26: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing entitled, “Assessing the U.S.-Qatar Relationship.” Witnesses were: Jonathan Schanzer, FDD (statement) Matthew Levitt, WINEP (statement); and Ilan Goldenberg, CNAS (statement). Video is here.
7/25: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing entitled, “Held for Ransom: The Families of Iran’s Hostages Speak Out.” Witnesses were: Douglas Levinson (Son of Robert Levinson) – statement; Babak Namazi (Son of Baquer Namazi, brother of Simak Namazi) – statement; and Omar Zakka (Son of Nizar Zakka) – statement. Ranking Member Deutch’s (D-FL) opening remarks are here. Video is here.
On the Record
Note: Many, many, many members issued self-congratulatory statements on the passage of the Russia, Iran, and North Korean Sanctions Act. If you want to see what a specific member said, Google is your friend.
Ryan (R-WI) 7/27: Statement on Meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri
Lowenthal (D-CT) 7/26: “Mr. Speaker, ‘irresponsible, reckless, duplicitous,’ all words used to describe Iran during the JCPOA negotiations. Soon, if this administration abrogates the JCPOA, those words would apply to us: ‘irresponsible’ for shredding an agreement that makes the world a safer place, ‘reckless’ in giving Iran an excuse to immediately restart the nuclear program, and ‘duplicitous’ in breaking an international agreement for no legitimate reason but to fulfill a campaign promise. Make no mistake, Iran is still a bad actor. It destabilizes the region. It funds terrorist activities. That is why we voted to increase nonnuclear sanctions on Iran yesterday. But the Iran nuclear agreement is being adhered to, and it is working. Under this administration, are we, as a nation, no longer as good as our word?”
Gallagher (D-NY) and Suozzi (D-NY) 7/26: Gallagher & Suozzi Introduce Bill to Sanction Hizballah for Use of Human Shields
Curbelo (R-FL) 7/26: Floor Statement in support of Taylor Force Act
Curbelo (R-FL) 7/25: Sharing the story of Hadar Goldin
Poe (R-TX) 7/25: STOP FUNDING PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS
Deutch (D-FL) 7/24: Rep. Deutch Condemns Violence in Israel, Demands Abbas End Incitement
Meng (D-NY) 7/21: Meng Secures Funds in Defense Appropriations Bill for U.S.-Israel Defense Cooperation Programs