FMEP Legislative Round-Up: October 11, 2019


1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters
2. Hearings
3. On the Record

*Brought to you in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Round-Up was born!

Note: From Day 1, I warned that Taylor Force Act was NOT about reducing US $ to PA, but was about redefining PA/PLO as terrorist entities, as step to US treating them as radioactive/enemies. On 10/9, JINSA published an op-ed in the Hill stating exactly that.

EVENT ALERT: On 10/25, there will be a briefing on Capitol Hill entitled, “Israel’s Fateful Choice: Annexation or Peace.” The event will feature the Israeli Peace Now’s (Shalom Achshav) Executive Director, Shaqued Morag, and Director of Development and External Relations, Brian Reeves. The moderator will be Debra Shushan, Director of Policy and Government Relations at Americans for Peace Now. The event will be in 2200 RHOB from 1:30-3pm. For more info contact

1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters

(SANCTIONING TURKEY FOR ATTACKING KURDS) S. XXXX: On 10/9, Senators Graham (R-SC) and Van Hollen (D-MD) announced plans to introduce legislation imposing sanctions on Turkey for its ongoing offensive against Kurds in Syria (an offensive green-lighted by President Trump). Graham press release is here, Van Hollen press release is here; longer description of the legislation (which has not yet been introduced) was posted by Van Hollen (here) circulated by Graham on Twitter, here.

(SANCTIONING TURKEY FOR ATTACKING KURDS) HR. XXXX: On 10/10, Rep. Cheney (R-WY) announced that along with 30 GOP colleagues, she would be introducing legislation similar to the Graham-Van Hollen bill (it is notable that the Senate effort is bipartisan, while the House effort is being promoted by Cheney explicitly as a partisan effort). Press release is here.

(PROTECTING SAUDI DISSIDENTS) HR 4507: Introduced 9/26 by Connolly (D-VA) and having no cosponsors, the “ Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act of 2019.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select). Press release is here.

(END DEPENDENCE ON KSA OIL) H. Res. 597: Introduced 9/26 by Latta (R-OH) and 4 cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should support, and not limit access to, all domestic energy sources in an effort to achieve full energy security.” Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The first 4 “whereas” clauses of the resolution read: “Whereas, on September 14, 2019, two facilities belonging to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s (KSA) state-run oil company Saudi Aramco were severely damaged in a sophisticated aerial attack carried out by enemies of the Kingdom; Whereas, in 2018, nine percent of all petroleum imports of the United States came from the KSA; Whereas, in the same year, twenty-nine percent of all petroleum imports of the United States came from countries that belong to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), including KSA; Whereas due to OPEC’s outsized share of the global petroleum market, any instability in one of its member countries can directly impact global energy markets…” Latta press release is here.


(NEED ANSWERS RE: ABRUPT SHIFT IN US SYRIA POLICY) Luria letter to Trump: On 10/10, Rep. Luria (D-VA) sent a letter to President Trump requesting clarification from the White House about how and why the President decided to withdraw U.S. forces from the Syria-Turkey border and effectively abandoned our Kurdish partners in the process.

(NEED ANSWERS RE: ABRUPT SHIFT IN US SYRIA POLICY) House letter to Trump: On 10/9, more than 50 House Democrats – led by Crow (D-CO) and Cooper (D-TN) joined together in a letter to President Trump asking for more information on his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the Syrian Turkish border. The wrote: “We believe your decision to withdraw U.S. personnel from the area will have far-reaching diplomatic and national security implications: it will dramatically alter our partnership with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), allow unilateral Turkish incursions into Syria, and jeopardize counter-ISIS efforts. Furthermore, it introduces uncertainty into U.S. foreign policy that will cause current and future allies to question the reliability of the U.S. as a partner…” Press release is here.

(NEED ANSWERS RE:  ABRUPT SHIFT IN US SYRIA POLICY) Graham-Coons letter to Senate leaders: On 10/8, Senators Graham (R-SC) and Coons (D-DE) sent a letter to the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders requesting a Senators-only briefing from the Departments of Defense and State, and the intelligence community on the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.

(NEED ANSWERS RE: ABRUPT SHIFT IN US SYRIA POLICY) Dems letter to SecDef: On 10/8, Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Armed Services Committee joined in sending a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper demanding answers regarding the Trump administration’s abrupt decision “to change course in Syria and abandon the Kurdish allies who have provided significant support in the fight against ISIS.”

(FREE AUSTIN TICE) Cruz-Cornyn letter to Trump: On 10/2, Senators Cruz (R-TX) and Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to President Trump stating: “It has now been more than seven years since Austin Tice, a veteran Marine Corps Captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was detained at a checkpoint near Damascus, Syria while working in the country as a freelance journalist. The Tice family and your own administration are confident that Austin is alive. We strongly urge that you continue to use the full weight of your national security team – including dispatching the Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs – to secure his release. Seven years is simply too long for Austin to be separated from his loved ones.” Press release is here.

(FREE AUSTIN TICE) Bipartisan, Bicameral letter to Trump: On 9/27, HFAC chair Engel (D-NY) led a bipartisan group of 122 House members, who joined with more than 50 Senators,  in urging President Trump to secure the release of detained American journalist Austin Tice. The members joined over fifty Senators in a letter to the President demanding Administration action to facilitate Tice’s release from Syria. Press release is here.

(UNFAIR TRADE TARIFFS ON ISRAEL?) Schweikert-Schneider letter to US Trade Rep: On 9/26, Reps. Schweikert (R-AZ) and Schneider (D-IL), sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer “to share our concerns regarding the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Israel and are asking for an explanation as to why Israel has not been granted an exemption.” Press release is here.


2. Hearings

10/17: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “The Betrayal of our Syrian Kurdish Partners: How Will American Foreign Policy and Leadership Recover?” Scheduled witnesses are: James Jeffrey, Department of State Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition To Defeat ISIS; and Joey Hood, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

10/17: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to consider (among other things) yet another version of S.2132 – an attempt to “fix” ATCA by finding a different hook to allow US plaintiffs and an Israeli lawfare organization to sue the PLO/PA out of existence, while still allowing some US aid to flow for things the US wants to fund (especially PA security cooperation with Israel). For details of this latest ATCA tweak, see the Sept 20th edition of the Round-Up.

10/17: The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold CLOSED hearings “to examine the situation in Syria and the wider region.” No further information is available.

10/16: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Syria Study Group: Recommendations for U.S. Policy.” Scheduled witnesses are Michael Singh, WINEP and Dana Stroul, WINEP, co-chairs of the Syria Study Group.

10/16: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “An Examination of US-Iran Policy.” The only scheduled witness is Brian Hook, Department of State’s Special Representative for Iran

9/26: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a joint hearing with the Committee on Natural Resources entitled, “Sustaining U.S. Pacific Insular Relationships.” Why is this being covered in the Round-Up of Israel/Middle East-related happenings on the Hill? Because Pacific Islands’ support for Israel (and for US positions defending Israel) at the UN were cited by the top US official testifying as a demonstration of the value of these relations: “only Israel votes with the United States at rates higher than the Federated States of Micronesia. The Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau stand with us to combat anti-Israel bias, and stood with us on the Jerusalem vote.” Video is here.

9/25: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a business meeting to deal with a list of bills, including S. Res. 236, A resolution reaffirming the strong partnership between Tunisia and the United States and supporting the people of Tunisia in their continued pursuit of democratic reforms; and S. Res. 277, A resolution remembering the 25th Anniversary of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and recommitting to efforts to uphold justice for the 85 victims of the attacks.

9/24: The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was scheduled to hold a hearing entitled, “U.S.-Saudi Security Relationship.” That hearing was postponed.

9/24: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism, held a hearing entitled, The Path Forward: Key Findings From the Syria Study Group Report. Witnesses were: Michael Singh, WINEP and Dana Stroul, WINEP, co-chairs of the Syria Study Group (joint statement). Video is here.

3. On the Record

In Support of Settlers

On 9/26, a group of GOP House members — McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Byrne (R-AL), Wagner (R-MO), Roe (R-TN) — took to the House floor for a Special Order speech promote settlements in “Judea and Samaria” — and to promote the idea that settlements are the path to Israeli-Palestinian peace (apparently making the case on the House floor for one state from the river to the sea is apparently entirely non-controversial in 2019, so long as that state is an Israeli one). They argued for U.S. support and financial banking to normalize settlements, including via U.S. support for joint settler-Palestinian projects, and made the case that such cooperation shouod be part of the Trump peace plan. Truly, it is worth reading the entire thing — essentially pro-settlement hasbara talking points in full (here).

This group is the same group that traveled to the West Bank during the summer recess under the auspices of a far-right wing Evangelical group dedicated to promoting the settlements (a trip that sparked zero criticism from congressional colleagues or any of the Israel-focused pundits or groups that energetically attacked Reps. Omar and Tlaib for their planned trip, based on allegations that the latter was not “balanced” and on the suggestion that members should only travel to Israel with AIPAC).


In the wake of President Trump’s public abandonment of America’s longtime Kurdish allies in Syria – and his de facto green light for Turkey to launch attacks against them, many, many, many, many members of the House and Senate, from both parties, have voiced opposition/outrage, and others (e.g., Paul, R-KY), support for the move. Check member websites to see what if anything specific members said.

On Deployment of US Troops to KSA

Markey (D-MA) 10/11: Senator Markey on Trump Deployment of U.S. Troops to Saudi Arabia: Saudis ‘Pay Cash’ While Kurds Pay with Their Lives

Molton (D-MA) 10/11: Moulton Statement on Saudi Arabia Deployment

Cole (R-OK) 10/11: Cole Statement on Troop Deployment to Saudi Arabia, UAE

McCollum (D-MN) 9/23: McCollum Statement on Deployment of U.S. Troops to Saudi Arabia

Markey (D-MA) 9/23: Senator Markey on U.S. Troop Deployments to Saudi Arabia: No Middle East Conflict Over Oil

On the 1-year anniversary of murder of Jamal Khashoggi murder

Jackson Lee (D-TX) 10/4: Remembering Jamal Khashoggi, Respected And Heroic Journalist, Loving Father, And Relentless Pursuer Of Truth

Hoyer (D-MD) 10/2: Hoyer Statement on One-Year Anniversary of the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Schiff (D-CA) & Chabot (R-OH) 10/2: Schiff, Chabot Joint Statement on the One-Year Anniversary of the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Kaine (D-VA) 10/2: Kaine Statement On Anniversary Of Khashoggi Murder

Coons (D-DE) & Tillis (R-NC) 10/2: Sens. Coons, Tillis statement on the anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

Feinstein (D-CA) 10/2: Feinstein Statement on Anniversary of Khashoggi Murder

Menendez (D-NJ) 9/30: Menendez Op-Ed: Trump Betrayed U.S. Moral Leadership. So Congress Had to Act

Murphy (D-CT) 9/26:     One Year After Khashoggi Murder, We Must Keep Demanding Accountability And Questioning The Nature Of The U.S.-saudi Alliance

Young (R-IN) & King (I-ME) 9/26: Senators Young and King React to Saudi Crown Prince Taking Responsibility for Khashoggi Killing

Leahy (D-VT) 9/26: Remarks on the One Year Anniversary of the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Iran (KSA explosion, etc)

Cruz (R-TX) 9/24: European Partners Confirm Iran Committed an Act of War

Cruz (R-TX) 9/23: Sen. Cruz Op-Ed in The New York Post: Time for Trump to Trigger the UN Snapback on Iran

Energy Independence from KSA!

Wicker (R-MS) 10/8:  Wicker Credits Energy Independence for a Safer World [“Iran’s September 14 attack on the Saudi oil-production facility at Abqaiq – the world’s largest crude processing operation – was an assault on the global energy supply. However, even after the plant stopped operating, crude prices remained fairly stable.”]

Gardner (R-CO) 9/25: Gardner Urges Energy Independence Following Saudi Arabia Attacks

Barrasso (R-WY) 9/24: Barrasso: We Need an America-First Energy Policy to Keep Our Nation Strong [using attack on KSA oil facility to push S. 218, “The ONSHORE Act”  which “will simplify the process for federal onshore oil and gas permits. Whether we’re talking about promoting energy exploration or utilities or carbon capturing or nuclear power, we must engineer our way to American energy solutions.”]


Leahy (D-VT) 10/9: Statement On The Case of Salman al-Awda [“A year after the horrifying, premeditated murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by agents of the Saudi Government, Salman al-Awda, a renowned Saudi reformist cleric, may be sentenced to prison or even death for acts of peaceful expression that are protected under international law and in every civilized nation…”]

McSally (R-AZ) 10/2: McSally Returns to Saudi Arabia, Drives Without Wearing Traditional Muslim Head-to-Toe Garb

Cramer (R-ND) 10/2: Sen. Cramer Keynotes CUFI’s “Night to Honor Israel” Event in Bismarck [“Support for Israel should be an obvious and natural extension of being Christian. I was honored to join this important organization as they remind followers of Christ of our religious and cultural roots…While the United States and Israel share common political values, Christians and Jews share a common bloodline that is even more important than politics.”]

McSally (R-AZ) 9/30: McSally Visits Sailors and Aircrew Deployed to Deter Iran in the Gulf Region including the Strait of Hormuz

Young (R-IN) & Murphy (D-CT) 9/27: Young, Murphy Statement on Saudi Arabia Fulfilling Its Commitment to UN Funding For Yemen

McCaul (R-TX) 9/27: McCaul Statement on Administration’s Block of Iranian Officials from United States

McCaul (R-TX) 9/27: McCaul Statement on Assad Regime’s Use of Chemical Weapons

Olson (R-TX) 9/27: Olson Statement on Assad Regime Use of Chemical Weapons

Engel (D-NY) & McCaul (R-TX) 9/27: Engel and McCaul Joint Statement on Protests in Egypt

Deutch (D-FL) 9/26: Rep. Deutch CNN Op-Ed: “Iran, Don’t Use American Hostages as Pawns”

Cotton (R-AR) 9/26: Cotton Statement on Iran’s Nuclear Agreement Violations

Van Hollen (D-MD) 9/26: Van Hollen Secures Appropriations Measure Prohibiting US Visas for Foreign Officials of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt Responsible for Wrongful Detention of Americans

SFRC press release 9/25: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Resolution in Remembrance of the 25th Anniversary of the AMIA Jewish Community Center Bombing in Argentina

Markey (D-MA), Wyden (D-OR) & Merkley (D-OR) 9/25: Senator Markey, Wyden, and Merkley Reintroduce Legislation to Ban U.S. Oil Exports [“It makes no sense to deploy our men and women in uniform to Saudi Arabia to protect their oil, while we still export our own overseas”]

Scott (R-FL) 9/24: Sen. Rick Scott: China’s Investment in Iran Proves They Can’t Be Trusted

McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) 9/24: At UNGA, ““This was an exciting opportunity to hear from world leaders and advocate for the American values of democracy, free markets, and individual rights…President Trump offered a message of American leadership and our goals of peace, cooperation, security, and mutual gain for all. He also delivered a strong condemnation of Iran, their anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their threats to peace around the world. In a time when too many advocate for socialism or communism, we must unite around the foundational value of liberty and fight for it not just here in America, but all around the world.”

Young (R-IN) & King (I-ME) 9/23: Sens. Young and King: Public actions, not private assurances, will help repair US-Saudi relations

Roy (R-TX) 9/20: Op-ed in the Hill, “Congress Should Clarify Our Mission In The Middle East”

Scott (R-FL) 9/20: Sen. Rick Scott: U.S., European Partners Need to Hold Iran Accountable