FMEP Legislative Round-Up: January 26, 2024


1. Bills, Resolutions
2. Letters
3. Hearings & Markups
4. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements


1. Bills, Resolutions & letters

(ADOPTING IHRA DEFINITION INTO US LAW AS PART OF EDUCATION AUTHORIZATION BILL) S. 3392: On 1/22/24, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (chaired by Sanders, I-VT) reported out of committee with an amendment in the nature of a substitute S. 3392, “To reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act, and for other purposes.” That amendment includes text of an amendment offered by Sen. Marshall (R-KS) during the HELP committee’s markup of the bill on December 12.  Marshall’s amendment adds into S. 3392 the IHRA definition of antisemitism, including its examples (which conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism), in a new section barring funding to any “entity that promotes antisemitism on the campus of such entity, or served by such entity, in violation of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.).” The new bill text stipulates that for the purposes of this funding ban, “The term ‘antisemitism’ has the meaning given the working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance on May 26, 2016, including the contemporary examples of antisemitism cited by the Alliance” and “The term ‘entity’ means a public elementary school or secondary school (including a charter school), local educational agency, State educational agency, postsecondary program, or institution of higher education.” As of this writing it is now known if/when this measure will be brought to the floor for a vote, or if/how the IHRA language will be dealt with in advance of or during such a vote (it would be unusual for Senate leadership to move ahead with a bill voted out of committee when the chair of that committee opposes the bill). Notably, this is an authorization bill – meaning it is not “must-pass” legislation. In the context of the current mess in Congress, this could mean that the bill will never be brought to a vote at all.

Of note:

  • HELP Chair Sanders vigorously opposed Marshall’s amendment in committee.
  • Some of the debate in the committee centered the amendment barring funds to any entity that “allows Anti-semitism to occur,” and Marshall agreed that changing “allows” to “promotes” might be acceptable.
  • Marshall’s amendment – including the word “allows” passed with YES votes from all Republicans (except for Paul, R-KY, who didn’t vote), plus YES votes from four Democrats: Baldwin (D-WI), Casey (D-PA), Hassan (D-NH), & Hickenlooper (D-CO)
  • The committee subsequently voted at the very end of the markup (by voice vote, after some members had already left) to adopt an amendment to Marshall’s amendment, changing the word “allows” to “promotes” (original amendment; modified amendment).
  • Video of the 12/12/23 markup is here. Committee consideration of the Marshall’s amendment adding enforcement of the IHRA definition of antisemitism to federal funding rules for all U.S. educational entities starts at around 45:40. The Committee vote on modifying Marshall’s amendment starts at around 2:09:45 (in a somewhat chaotic ending to the hearing).

(SUPPORTING 2-STATE SOLUTION) S. Amdt. XXXX: On 1/24/24, Sen. Schatz (D-HI) announced his plan to introduce an amendment “that reiterates longstanding U.S. policy in support of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict” to the anticipated supplemental aid bill. According to his press release, his amendment is supported by all fellow Senate Democrats except for Fetterman (D-PA) and Manchin (D-WV). Many of those Democrats gave quotes cited in the press release. The amendment reads: “It is the policy of the United States— (1) to support a negotiated comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace, security, dignity, and mutual recognition; and (2) that such a solution must ensure the state of Israel’s survival as a secure, democratic, and Jewish state, and fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.” Also see: 49 Senate Democrats join amendment affirming support for two-state solution – The legislation represents an effective rebuke of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent comments rejecting a two-state solution (Jewish Insider 1/15/24); John Fetterman and Joe Manchin decline to back resolution supporting a 2-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Business Insider 1/24/24); Congressional Dems intensify their pushback against Netanyahu with public defense of Palestinian state (Politico 1/24/24)

(DISAPPROVE OF AID TO EGYPT) S. J. Res. 54: Introduced 1/22/24 by Paul (R-KY), “A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval of the proposed foreign military sale to the Government of Egypt of certain defense articles and services.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(DISAPPROVE OF AID TO EGYPT) S. J. Res. 55: Introduced 1/22/24 by Paul (R-KY), A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval of the proposed foreign military sale to the Government of Egypt of certain defense articles and services. Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(DISAPPROVE OF AID TO EGYPT) S. J. Res. 56:  Introduced 1/22/24 by Paul (R-KY), A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval of the proposed foreign military sales to the Government of Egypt of certain defense articles and services. Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(IRAN) S. 3647: Introduced 1/24/24 by Warnock (D-GA) and Vance (R-OH), “A bill to amend the Justice for United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act to use funds in the lump sum catch-up payment reserve fund to make payments to Iran hostages and their families.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.


2. Letters

  • [WE SUPPORT THE 2-STATE SOLUTION] 1/23/24: Congressmen Krishnamoorthi and 43 Democratic colleagues send letter to Biden in support of two-state solution [letter text]. Excerpt: “We write today to express our support for a two-state solution as the only viable path for a sustainable peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. We applaud your continued commitment to a goal that could end the decades-long cycle of violence that has consumed the Israeli and Palestinian people. We are deeply concerned by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s public rejection of a two-state solution on January 18, and respectfully request that your Administration outline a strategy to marshal international and ultimately, Israeli and Palestinian support to successfully implement a two-state solution.


3. Hearings & Markups

January 30, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability and Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations will convene a joint witch-hunt/show trial/publicity stunt masquerading as a hearing entitled, “UNRWA Exposed: Examining the Agency’s Mission and Failures.” Witnesses will be: Richard Goldberg, Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Marcus Sheff, IMPACT-se; Hillel Neuer, UN Watch; Mara Rudman, University of Virginia Miller Center. Note that there has been a lot of targeting of UNRWA of late – see for example:

  • Risch on Reports of UNRWA Staff’s Alleged Complicity in Kidnapping of Israelis on October 7;
  • Jewish Insider – U.S. halts UNRWA funding over staffers’ involvement with Oct. 7 terror attacks;
  • Israel Hayom – Israel asks UNRWA to vacate plot, pay fine in capital over illegal activity;
  • Stefanik (R-NY) 1/26/24 – “It is absolutely shameful and unacceptable that employees at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) had a direct role in the barbaric October 7th attacks against Israel. UNRWA is supposed to be a humanitarian agency, yet their employees are supporting Hamas in its goal to eradicate the Israeli state and carry out genocide against the Jewish people. Unfortunately, this is another devastating consequence of the Biden Administration’s complete incompetence. In 2021, Joe Biden reversed President Trump’s decision to cut off U.S. taxpayer dollars from going to the antisemitic UNRWA. For the last three years Joe Biden’s decision to send U.S. taxpayer dollars to Gaza with no oversight and no accountability has allowed for the proliferation of abhorrent and antisemitic educational materials to be used across Gaza and filled the coffers of Hamas. Now we are finding out that their employees who are funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars were directly involved in the abhorrent October 7th attacks. The Biden Administration’s limited suspension of funds to UNRWA to cover up for their disastrous mistake is unacceptable. Joe Biden must permanently cut off all funding to this antisemitic and violent organization.”

January 30, 2024: The House Committee on Transportation and Reform will hold a hearing entitled, “Menace on the Red Sea: Securing Shipping Against Threats in the Red Sea.” As of this writing there is no information regarding witnesses.


4. Selected Media & Press releases/statements

Congress & Aid for Israel
Congress & Support for Israel