1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Hearings & Markups
3. On the Record
Shameless plug: ICYMI: On 3/2, FMEP held an amazing webinar: “Til Kingdom Come”: Evangelicals, Israel/Palestine, and Messianic Politics, ft. ‘Til Kingdom Come director & Emmy award winner Maya Zinshtein; author and journalist Sarah Posner; and FMEP President Lara Friedman (featured in the film) — in conversation with FMEP non-resident fellow Peter Beinart. Video and resources shared during the webinar are here.
Also of note: AIPAC has canceled its 2021 Policy Conference due to COVID. But NORPAC is going ahead with its annual Mission to Washington, with a virtual mission May 3-6. What any of this means remains to be seen. AIPAC will almost certainly still back a package of legislation this Spring (this is about keeping score and demonstrating influence/impact – one likely piece of legislation in that package is discussed below; AIPAC’s legislative agenda, as of now, is here) and NORPAC will come to its virtual mission with a list of specific legislative asks on its Mission Agenda. Stay tuned!
*Brought to you in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Round-Up was born!
1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
(GRANDSTANDING RE: BDS) Barr amendment to Covid relief bill: On 2/28, Rep. Barr (R-KY) proposed an amendment in the House Rules Committee to the “American Rescue Plan,” aka, the COVID relief bill, seeking to bar any funding in the bill from going to “any nongovernmental organization, contractor, or grantee that promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements against the State of Israel.” The amendment was voted down by the Committee. Worth noting:
- This amendment brings to mind the 2017 controversy when in the wake of a hurricane, it was suggested by at least one Texas city that in order to receive disaster assistance Texans were required to affirm that they do not and will not boycott Israel (and worth noting: under Texas law, boycott Israel includes boycotting settlements). Barr appears to be gleefully doubling down on and expanding this approach, seeking to make aid DURING A PANDEMIC conditional on Americans giving up 1st Amendment-protected free speech rights.
- Barr also appears to be laying out a demand that has been hinted at in Congress before: to make US funding for international NGOs conditional on their rejection of BDS (so stay tuned for this same framing to be offered in other contexts).
- It is worth noting that NGO Monitor – explicitly cited by Barr in his arguments for the amendment — on 1/26/21 published a paper entitled, “Recommendations: Implementing the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism for NGO Funding.” NGO Monitor recommends (among other things), that “The IHRA definition and accompanying examples, as markers for antisemitic rhetoric and activity, should be explicitly incorporated into Calls for Proposals and Grant Agreements as grounds for disqualification from receiving funds and termination of projects. Such conditions must be made explicit, and potential grantees must be informed of their existence.” and “Government bodies responsible for disbursing funding should develop rigorous and thorough vetting systems to guarantee that NGOs that engage in antisemitism are disqualified. These evaluations must not be limited to technical capacity, but must consider all aspects of the potential grantees’ activity, as well as any project partners.” [As a reminder, under Trump, SecState Pompeo accused NGOs of violating the IHRA definition of antisemitism for their alleged support for/promotion of BDS, which he termed antisemitic and threatened to use as a basis for sanctions against NGOs]
- Video of Barr proposing this non-germane, grandstanding (and brazenly unconstitutional amendment) is here. Also see Barr’s 3/1 tweet grandstanding about the amendment: “As the @J_Insider reported this morning, House Democrats blocked my common sense amendment to prevent funds from their ‘COVID-19 relief bill’ from going to any organization that promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) Movement against Israel…The BDS Movement threatens the national security of one of our greatest allies. The United States should always stand with Israel in opposition to BDS.”
- As I noted on Twitter with respect to the amendment – “And they’re off! The competition to score pro-Israel (ostensibly) points at the expense of 1st Amendment-protected free speech has begun in the 117th Congress!”
(PROMOTING ARAB NORMALIZATION WITH ISRAEL) S. XXX: Reliable gossip from Hill sources suggests that Sens. Booker (D-NJ) and Portman (R-OH) will imminently re-introduce legislation aimed at promoting Arab normalization with Israel (introduced in the last Congres as S. 4482, which was covered in the 8/20/20 edition of the Round-Up). This move should surprise absolutely no one, nor should the fact that according to the gossip, the new bill will be expanded from the original’s mere reporting requirement, to add real heft to the policy. Reportedly, this heft will come in the form of (a) linking US regional funding to the goal of normalization, explicitly linking MEPI funds to normalization, and (b) increasing MERC funding (funding which already supports normalization related to regional scientific cooperation). Reportedly the bill will be part of the package of legislation to be lobbied by AIPAC (which under normal circumstances would be right now putting the finishing touches on its annual Policy Conference lobbying agenda). Lending extra credence to this gossip, on 3/3 the far right-wing organization EMET (Endowment for Middle East Truth – which spun off some years ago from the ZOA) tweeted: “…The EMET policy team has met with the office of Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) numerous times in February, ahead of the reintroduction of the bipartisan bill S.4482 [introduced?] by Senator Cory Booker and Senator Rob Portman in the 116th Congress….]”
(NO RE-JOINING JCPOA) HR 1479: Introduced 3/2 by Barr (R-KY) and no cosponsors (but adding 3 Republicans cosponsors on 3/3), “To prohibit the use of Federal funds relating to rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(NO IMF AID TO IRAN) HR 1568: Introduced 3/3 by Hill (R-AR) and 2 GOP cosponsors, “To amend the Special Drawing Rights Act in order strengthen congressional oversight with respect to allocations of Special Drawing Rights by the International Monetary Fund, and to prohibit such allocations for perpetrators of genocide and state sponsors of terrorism without congressional authorization, and for other purposes.” While text of the bill is not yet online, in an op-ed last month in the Wall Street Journal Hill made clear that he is targeting Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to benefit a list of countries that includes Iran. Hill press release is here; his one-pager summarizing the bill is here; a video of him making the case for the legislation is here.
(BLOCK ARMS SALES TO KSA) H. Res .175: Introduced 2/26 by Trone (D-MD) and 2 cosponsors (both Democrats), “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding United States arms transfers to Saudi Arabia.” Referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select). Trone press release is here; Trone tweet here.
(SANCTIONS ON KSA) HR 1464: Introduced 3/1 by Malinowski (D-NJ) and 2 cosponsors (both Democrats), “To impose sanctions with respect to foreign persons listed in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence report titled ‘Assessing the Saudi Government’s Role in the Killing of Jamal Khashoggi’, dated February 11, 2021.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on the Judiciary. Also see: Malinowski press release; Democrats Introduce Bill Banning MBS From U.S., Conditioning Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia (Haaretz)
(PROTECT SAUDI DISSIDENTS IN US) HR 1392: Introduced 2/26 by Connolly (D-VA) and 6 cosponsors (all Democrats), “To protect Saudi dissidents in the United States, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select). Connolly press release is here; Twitter thread laying out what the bill seeks to do is here.
(SANCTIONING MBS) HR 1511 (pdf): Introduced 3/2 by Omar (D-MN) and no cosponsors (but adding 6 Democratic cosponsors on 3/3), “To impose sanctions with respect to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on the Judiciary. Also see: press release – Rep. Omar Introduces The MBS MBS Act to Sanction Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; and Tweet – “Every minute Mohammed bin Salman escapes punishment is a moment where U.S. interests, human rights, and the lives of Saudi dissenters are at risk. Today, I introduced legislation to place sanctions on the Crown Prince for his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi”
(REPEAL IRAQ AUMFS) S. J. Res. 10: Introduced 3/3 by Kaine (D-VA) and Young (R-IN) along with 7 bipartisan cosponsors, “A joint resolution to repeal the authorizations for use of military force against Iraq, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Press releases/Tweets: Kaine (D-NV), Coons (D-DE), Paul (R-KY), Coons (D-DE). Also see: Bipartisan senators introduce bill to strip Biden of war powers (Politico)
(NO FUNDING FOR WARS) HR 1457: Introduced 3/1 by Himes (D-CT) and no cosponsors (but adding 3 Democratic cosponsors on 3/3), “To prohibit funds available for the United States Armed Forces to be obligated or expended for introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committees on Armed Services, and Rules Committee.
(DEPLATFORMING FTOs) HR 1543 (pdf): Introduced 3/3 by Barr (R-KY) and all-GOP 42 cosponsors, “To provide authorities to prohibit the provision of services by social media platforms to certain individuals and entities on the Specially Designated Nationals List and senior officials of governments of a state sponsor of terrorism,” aka, the “No Social Media Accounts for Terrorists or State Sponsors of Terrorism Act of 2021.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: ‘No social media accounts for terrorists’: House GOP pushes to block sanctioned foreign leaders from platforms (FoxNews 3/2). Tweets in support of the bill from Reps. Barr (R-KY), Pfluger (R-TX), Turner (R-OH)
(DESERT STORM COMMEMORATION) H. Res. 172: Introduced 3/1 by McNerney (D-CA) and Palazzo (R-MS), “Expressing support for the designation of February 28, as “Desert Storm Veterans Day.” Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Press release is here.
(PRESS ISRAEL TO DO MORE TO HELP VACCINATE PALESTINIANS) Sanders letter to Blinken: This week Sen. Sanders (I-VT) is seeking cosigners on a letter to SecState Blinken asking the Biden Administration “to urge the Israeli government to do more to help the Palestinians in the territories receive adequate supplies of the COVID vaccine.” The letter – which reportedly closes next Wednesday – also notes that the underlying challenges laid bare by the COVID crisis “will not be fully resolved until the occupation is ended and the Palestinian people’s right to national independence is realized” and thus urged the Biden Administration “to follow through on the commitment to rebuild the U.S.-Palestinian relationship by taking a number of early steps such as reopening the Jerusalem consulate; reopening the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Washington, DC office; reaffirming opposition to unilateral steps by either side that undermine prospects for two states and articulating consequences for such steps; and reversing the Trump administration’s ill-advised decisions to blur distinction between Israel within its internationally recognized pre-1967 borders—the “Green Line”—and the West Bank.”
(GET THE ICC TO LAY OFF OF ISRAEL!) Senate letter to Blinken: As covered in last week’s Round-Up, a letter is being circulated in the Senate for cosigners by Sens. Cardin (D-MD) and Portman (R-OH) urging the Biden Administration to take a strong stand against any ICC investigation of Israel. That letter continues to circulate this week, after the ICC announced that it will go ahead with exactly such an investigation (just as they did in 2020, validating the observation that no matter who is president and no matter how partisan the atmosphere, members of Congress are able to act in a bipartisan manner when it comes to defending Israel against any possible kind of accountability). New this week is active lobbying of the letter by AIPAC (as of 3/4, AIPAC appears to be tweeting about this at least once every hour), and media coverage of the letter (see Jewish Insider 3/1: Senate letter calls on Blinken to denounce ICC decision on Israel.
(IRAN ARMS EMBARGO) Ernst-Hagerty letter to Blinken: On 3/3, Sens. Ernst (R-IA) and Hagerty (R-TN) sent a letter to SecState Biden to urge the Biden Administration to work with our allies and partners to impose a new arms embargo on Iran. Ernst press release is here.
(TURKEY HUMAN RIGHTS) Gosar letter to Blinken: On 3/3, Rep. Gosar (R-AZ) sent a letter to SecState Blinken expressing concerns about the Biden Administration’s alleged failure to engage Turkey with respect to civil rights violations. Gosar tweeted the letter (which as of this writing has not been posted on his website), with the comment: “Turkish Americans expect the State Dept to address civil rights violations in #Turkey including political persecutions, deplatforming, and weoponized law enforcement and judiciary against political opponents.”
(REINSTATE HUMANITARIAN AID TO YEMEN) Markey et al letter: On 3/1, Sens. Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Van Hollen (D-MD), and Sanders (I-VT.) sent a letter to SecState Blinken and Acting USAID Administrator Steele calling for “a swift reversal of USAID’s suspension of humanitarian assistance to northern Yemen,and a reinvigoration of bold diplomacy to bring the conflict to an end.” Markey press release is here. Markey tweet: “Untold numbers of innocent Yemenis have been killed by weaponry America sold to the Saudi regime. We have a responsibility to do what we can to alleviate the suffering we shamefully played a role in creating. USAID must reverse the decision to suspend humanitarian aid.”
(ANTI-JCPOA LETTER) Senate GOP letter to Biden: On 2/26, Sens. Risch (R-ID), Inhofe (R-OK), Rubio (R-FL), Toomey (R-PA) and Portman (R-OH), sent a letter President Biden urging him to “bipartisan congressional support for U.S. policy on Iran” and laying out views of an appropriate Iran policy moving forward. These include opposing rejoining the JCPOA and arguing that “any negotiation with Iran should be combined with efforts to expand the Abraham Accords, ensure sufficient U.S. deterrence in the region against further attacks, continue to build partner capacity to address the Iranian threat, support reforms that reinforce regional sovereignty, and explore multilateral security arrangements built around like-minded partners.” See Inhofe press release – Do Not Repeat Past Mistakes: Inhofe, Risch, Rubio, Toomey, Portman Send Letter to President Biden Underscoring Republican Consensus on Iran Policy; also press release from Toomey; Top US Senate Republicans warn Biden against reviving Iran deal (Middle East Monitor); Portman tweet
(TURKEY HUMAN RIGHTS) Moulton-Gonzales letter to SecState Blinken: On 2/26, Reps. Moulton (D-MA) Gonzales (R-OH) let a letter, cosigned by more than 170 House members, urging the Biden administration “to address the troubling human rights abuses taking place under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey has long been a key United States ally. Unfortunately, President Erdogan has strained the relationship between our nations. Strategic issues have rightfully received significant attention in our bilateral relationship, but the gross violation of human rights and democratic backsliding taking place in Turkey are also of significant concern.” Press releases: (dated March 1) is Moulton (D-MA), Sarbanes (D-MD). Also see: House Joins Senate’s Call for Tougher Action Against Erdogan (FDD); 170 U.S. Lawmakers Urge Biden Administration to Push Turkey on Rights (Haaretz)
On March 2, HFAC Chair Meeks (D-NY) released the committee’s hearing schedule for March 2021, including:
- March 10 at 1:30pm, ET: The Committee will convene for a hybrid hearing entitled, “Secretary Blinken: The Biden Administration’s Priorities for U.S. Foreign Policy.”
- March 11 at 10:00 a.m., ET: The Subcommittee on Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism will convene for a virtual hearing entitled, “The Crisis in Yemen: Part 1.”
March 4: The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Colin Kahl to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy — a hearing that was focused greatly on Iran policy both during the era of President Obama and as it is headed under President Biden. Kahl’s opening statement is here; answers to advance policy questions are here. Video of the hearing is here. Also see:
- Inhofe (R-OK) 3/4: Tweet – “I was glad to hear Dr. Kahl, @POTUS’s nominee to be Under Secretary of @DeptofDefense for Policy, supports keeping the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem – but I remain concerned he wants to lift sanctions on Iran when the regime is acting as bad as ever.” Linked to video of Q&A during confirmation hearing.
- Also see Inhofe press releases – ICYMI: SASC Ranking Member Inhofe Asks Top Pentagon Nominee Kahl to Clarify Past Statements on Middle East Policy & ICYMI: SASC Ranking Member Inhofe Criticizes Top DOD Nominee for ‘Hyper-Partisan’ Policy Positions
- Cramer (R-ND) press release, Sen. Cramer Addresses Controversy Surrounding Dr. Kahl, Questions Defense Dept. Nominee on Nuclear Modernization, Abraham Accords, Energy Security
- Warren (D-MA) Twitter thread – “The @DeptofDefense’s record of addressing civilian harm from US military operations is inconsistent and inadequate. @ColinKahl has written persuasively on the need to get this right. I look forward to his confirmation as DoD Under Secretary and working with him on this issue.” & “.@ColinKahl also understands the undisputed fact that Iran’s nuclear program is closer to a nuclear weapon today than it was before the Trump admin recklessly withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal against our allies’ wishes. We have Trump to thank for making Iran more dangerous.”
- Iran casts long shadow over Pentagon nominee’s Senate hearing (Reuters),
- Iran deal at the center of Kahl’s nomination hearing (Jewish Insider)
March 3: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Ambassador Wendy Sherman Deputy Secretary of the Department of State — a hearing that was focused greatly on Iran policy both during the era of President Obama and as it is headed under President Biden. Sherman’s written testimony is here. Video of the hearing is here. Also see:
- Senators grill Biden nominee as proxy for wider Iran-deal debate (Washington Post)
- Iran looms over Senate hearing for Biden nominee for senior U.S. State post (Reuters)
March 2: The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled, “Global Security Challenges and Strategy.” Witnesses were Thomas Wright, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution (testimony) and Lieutenant Gen. (Ret.) Herbert McMaster, Jr. (testimony, testimony – yes, he submitted 2). Video is here. The hearing covered a lot of ground, including focus on Iran. Also see: Rosen Transcript Following Armed Services Committee Hearing on Global Security Challenges [focusing on Iran]
Members On The Record…
Cruz (R-TX) 3/3: Tweet – “In the last six weeks, Team Biden: Embraced China, Bombed Syria, Empowered Russia and Putin, Refused to stand with Israel on the Golan Heights, Lifted sanctions on Iranian backed terrorists – Not an encouraging start for Biden’s foreign policy.”
…re: Israel/Palestine (incl ICC)
Deutch (D-FL) and Wilson (R-SC) 3/4: Press release – Deutch, Wilson Statement on ICC Decision to Investigate Israel [“The ICC’s decision to open an investigation where it lacks jurisdiction is inappropriate and sets a dangerous precedent. By moving forward with its investigation, not only is the Court undermining Israel’s sovereignty but it is also challenging Israel’s robust judicial system and ability to responsibly investigate such matters for itself. This is disturbing given the ongoing attempts to use the court to investigate the United States. Israel, like the United States, is not a member of the ICC. Furthermore, we cannot be assured that this investigation will be conducted fairly, particularly as the Court follows a pattern of political bias by so many other international organizations to single out and impose a double standard on Israel.“]
Sherman (D-CA) 3/4: Tweet – “Today I met with Amb @giladerdan1 Israel’s new Amb to the US & @UN and discussed issues important to the US-Israel relationship for over an hour. Looking forward to working together & in Congress to address Iran, US-Israel scientific cooperation, anti-Semitism, & other issues.”
Tlaib (D-MN) (re-tweeted by Omar, D-MN) 3/4: Tweet – “No one is above the law. The @IntlCrimCourt has the authority and duty to independently & impartially investigate and deliver justice to victims of human rights violations and war crimes in Palestine and Israel. The U.S. should not interfere with its ability to do so.” Linked to SecState Blinken tweet – “The United States firmly opposes an @IntlCrimCourt investigation into the Palestinian Situation. We will continue to uphold our strong commitment to Israel and its security, including by opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly.”
Gimenez (R-FL) 3/4: Tweet – “I applaud @SecBlinken for defending #Israel ahead of the @IntlCrimCourt decision to open investigations into Israel. The ICC is more intent on punishing the world’s only Jewish state than they are punishing #China and #Venezuela for despicable human rights abuses.” Linked to SecState Blinken tweet – “The United States firmly opposes an @IntlCrimCourt investigation into the Palestinian Situation. We will continue to uphold our strong commitment to Israel and its security, including by opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly.”
Schneider (D-IL) 3/4: Twitter thread – “.@SecBlinken’s statement is unequivocal, and the Biden Administration is absolutely right to oppose the ICC investigation into Israel. The ICC lacks jurisdiction and Palestinians do not qualify as a sovereign state to delegate jurisdiction.” & “Unilateral actions by the Palestinians clearly “undercut efforts to advance a negotiated two state solution”. The U.S., including the U.S. Congress, remains steadfastly committed to a secure Israel and the pursuit of regional peace.” Linked to SecState Blinken statement.
Rubio (R-FL) 3/3: Tweet – “The #ICC continues to put its energy & resources into illegitimate investigations in which it has 0 jurisdiction. Instead of politically motivated investigations into the U.S. & Israel, the ICC should focus on the horrific abuses in Syria, Venezuela, China, and Cuba. Disgraceful.”
Torres (D-NY) 3/3: Tweet – “The ICC is so obsessed with Israel, which happens to be the world’s only Jewish state, that it can’t be bothered to investigate the egregious human rights abuses of China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, to name but a few.” Linked to Barak Ravid tweet – “.@StateDeptSpox Ned Price: The U.S. opposes and is disappointed by the international criminal court decision to open an investigation regarding the situation in the West Bank and Gaza. We are committed to Israel’s security and to counter actions that treat Israel unfairly”
Risch (R-ID) 3/3: Tweet – “I condemn the International Criminal Court’s decision to proceed with an investigation into #Israel’s actions in the West Bank & Gaza. This inquiry is outside the ICC’s jurisdiction, and it should be ended immediately.”
Blackburn (R-TN) 3/3: Tweet – “This week the first Ambassador from the UAE presented his credentials in Israel. This historic moment was made possible by the monumental #AbrahamAccords and the leadership of President Trump. May this relationship prosper and thrive!”
Hill (R-AR) 3/1: Floor statement – “Recognizing the Service Of Ambassador David M. Friedman” [“Mr. Friedman strengthened our bond with Israel, took our partnership to new heights, secured peaceful relationships for Israel in the Middle East, and was influential in moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Through his diligent work, Mr. Friedman set in motion the peaceful resolution of Israel-Arab conflicts. His hard work and service set the standard for building U.S. diplomatic relationships, and earned him a well-deserved nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.”]
Sanders (I-VT) 3/1: Tweet – “I applaud the Israeli health officials for their efforts. Making sure all Palestinians receive vaccines is the right thing to do from both a public health and moral perspective. I hope the Israeli government follows their advice as quickly as possible.” Linked to article – Israeli Health Officials To Government: Vaccinate All Palestinians (NPR)
Hagerty (R-KY) 3/4: Twitter thread promoting S. 488 (covered in last week’s Round-Up), opening with “Yesterday, another rocket attack in Iraq, with all the hallmarks of the Iran-backed militias, resulted in the death of an American. The Iranian regime seems intent on attacking Americans at the same time the Biden admin wants to give Tehran sanctions relief.”
Newman (D-IL) 3/3: Tweet – “Since Trump abandoned the Iran Nuclear Deal, Iran has continued to increase its uranium capacity, making our world a more dangerous place. The Biden administration must continue to work with our allies to reconstitute the JCPOA and help bring stability to the region.”
Cramer (R-ND) 3/2: Sen. Cramer, Colleagues Introduce Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act (covered in last week’s Round-Up). Also see, Tweets about this bill: Hoeven (R-ND), Hagerty (R-TN), Rubio (R-FL), Blunt (R-MO), Cramer (R-ND), Hagerty (R-TN), Young (R-IN), Capito (R-WV)
Mitchell (R-MI) 3/2: Tweet – “So much for diplomacy with Iran and its various state backed militias. Now about the sanctions and the nuclear deal???” Linked to article, Base housing US troops in Iraq hit by rockets (The Hill)
Deutch (D-FL) 3/2: Tweet – “Glad to see this. We must always make the return of Americans a priority. Iran must also provide closure to the Levinson family.” Linked to Tweet from State Dept Spox – “Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley is speaking with all U.S. families whose loved ones are unjustly detained or missing in Iran. The Biden Administration will not rest until they are all free and reunited with their loved ones.”
Republican Steering Committee 3/2: Republican Study Committee Steering Committee Official Position on Iran
McConnell (R-KY) 3/2: McConnell to Biden Administration on Iran: Don’t Surrender Leverage for Nothing [remarks in Congressional Record here]
Blunt (R-MS) 3/1: Blunt Backs Bill to Require Congressional Approval before any Iran Sanctions Relief Is Granted
Salazar (R-FL) 3/1: Tweet – “The brutal regime in #Iran is being sanctioned for its Human Rights abuses, for oppressing the Iranian people, & for exporting terrorism across the globe. None of that has changed. The regime’s ruthless behavior does not warrant any lifting of sanctions!” Linked to article, Iran insists U.S. lift sanctions first to revive nuclear deal talks (Reuters)
Hagerty (R-TX) 3/1: Twitter thread opening with – “In the Middle East, President Biden should pursue a strategy based on 3 common-sense principles. The first, we must strengthen our traditional allies, take their concerns seriously, and avoid the development of a vacuum that opens the door for adversaries….” [targeting Iran & arguing that the US must “resolve regional conflicts on our own terms. The model of the Abraham Accords between Israel and the Arab world serves as a powerful reminder that diplomacy is not an end itself, but a means to an end”. Linked to his 2/26 op-ed in the Hill, Congress must check Biden’s risky Iran reset
Schneider (D-IL) 2/28: Tweet – “The Biden Administration’s position is clear— we will return to the JCPOA as a starting point for negotiations only when Iran is in full compliance with the terms of the agreement.” Linked to article, Iran Rejects Offer of Direct U.S. Nuclear Talks, Ratcheting Up Tension With West (Wall Street Journal)
Young (R-IN) 2/26: Young Joins Bill to Require Congressional Vote Before Any Iran Sanctions Relief is Granted
…re: Syria Strike
Slotkin (D-MI) 3/1: Slotkin Statement on Defensive Airstrikes Against Iranian-backed Militia in Syria
Slotkin (D-MI) 2/27: Twitter thread (8 tweets), opening with, “Iran continues to support attacks on the United States, most recently the February 15 rocket attacks on a base in northern Iraq where a U.S. service member was wounded, and a civilian contractor was killed.”
McClain (R-MI) 2/27: Tweet – “Iran’s grip on the Middle East must be stopped. I support @POTUS’ decision to strike the Iranian-backed militias in Syria. We must remain strong and push back against Iran’s influence and prevent their proxies from advancing.” Linked to article, Militia Official: US Strike in Syria Kills 1, Wounds Several (Military.com)
Turner (R-OH) 2/26: Tweet – “Our military’s retaliatory response yesterday against targets in Syria illustrated that Iran remains our adversary and not our partner in nuclear negotiations. Read my full statement here:” Linked to pdf of his statement (not on his website)
Massie (R-KY) 2/26: Twitter thread (consolidated) – “(1/4)When President Trump launched an attack against an Iranian general in Iraq, the Democrats offered a resolution to assert that any further attacks against Iran would require the proper approval of Congress. I was one of only three Republicans to vote for that resolution. (2/4)President Trump called me to strongly encourage me not to vote for that resolution, but I told him I had always asserted Congress’ sole authority to declare war when Obama was President and I had to remain consistent. 3/4)He said if I voted for it: I would get a primary opponent (true: opponent filed the next day) and He wouldn’t help me (true: during the race he encouraged the GOP to throw me out of the party) (4/4)Now that President Biden has launched an attack directed toward Iran in a sovereign country without permission, I wonder if @SpeakerPelosi will be consistent and offer a similar resolution to assert the Constitutional authority of Congress to decide when we go to war?” Linked to articles, House votes to limit Trump’s power to hit Iran militarily (UPI) & House approves pair of measures reining in Trump’s military action against Iran (CNN)
Lee (D-CA) 2/26: Tweet – “My statement on the U.S. air strikes in Syria” [linked to image of her statement]
Omar (D-MN) 2/26: Tweet – “The Administration must provide a legal rationale for the air strikes in Syria and why these strikes met the high bar for military action without Congressional approval. My statement on the U.S. air strikes in Syria” [linked to image of her statement]
McConnell (R-KY) 2/26: McConnell Statement on Strikes in Syria
Inhofe (R-OK) 2/26: Inhofe Statement on Air Strikes in Syria Targeting Iran-Backed Militias
Markey (D-MA) 2/26: Senator Markey Statement on U.S. Air Strikes in Syria
Kaine (D-VA) 2/26: Kaine Statement on Airstrikes in Syria
Sanders (I-VT) 2/26: Sanders Statement on Air Strikes in Syria
Chabot (R-OH) 3/2: Tweet – “NATO ally Turkey is on the front lines in NW Syria defending innocent civilians from the cruel Assad regime & its backers. As Turkey mourns the first anniversary of the deaths of 33 soldiers in Idlib, my heart is with the Turkish people & the families of the fallen.”
Cohen (D-TN), Chabot (R-OH), Connolly (D-VA) and Wilson (D-SC) 3/1: Co-Chairmen of the Caucus on U.S.-Turkey Relations and Turkish Americans Condemn Killing of Turkish and Iraqi Citizens
Scott (R-FL) 2/26: Tweet – “Uyghurs living in Turkey are peacefully protesting outside the Chinese Embassy, but Erdogan and his goons are silencing the protestors. Erdogan is more interested in securing investment from Beijing and protecting the feelings of Xi Jinping than the rights of his people.” Linked to article, Turkey’s Uighurs fear betrayal over Chinese vaccines and trade (Financial Times)
Khanna (D-CA) 3/2: Tweet – “Yemen needs our help, now more than ever. After supporting the Saudi-led war, we have a moral responsibility to prevent famine. The Biden administration should ensure that the international community is increasing not decreasing its aid to Yemen.” Linked to article – UN chief: Appeal for Yemen raises ‘disappointing’ $1.7B (AP)
Deutch (D-FL) 3/1: Twitter thread – “I applaud @SecBlinken for pledging an addition $191M in humanitarian aid to Yemen @UN donor summit.” and “We must continue working together to expand U.S. assistance & convince other nations to meet their pledges to Yemen.” Linked to Deutch tweet about the letter he led last week re: aid to Yemen (covered in last week’s Round-Up).
McCollum (D-MN) 2/27: Tweet – “Yemeni journalist Adel al-Hasani has been detained & abused in Yemen for months by the UAE-sponsored Southern Transitional Council. I support @pressfreedom’s call for Adel’s immediate release. Adel’s former teacher lives in MN & fears for his safety.” Linked to alert from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Journalist Adel al-Hasani held by Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council since September
Bipartisan group of senators 2/26: Bipartisan Group of Senators Call on Houthis to Halt Their Marib Offensive
…re: Saudi Arabia/Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Doggett (D-TX) 3/1: Twitter thread, opening with – “A Biden Administration foreign policy failure—refusing to penalize the Saudi leader who murdered and dismembered a U.S. resident, Jamal Khashoggi. This sends a troubling message to other authoritarian killers worldwide.”
Markey (D-MA) 2/27: Tweet – “Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman had Jamal Khashoggi murdered. Trump covered it up. America shouldn’t sell offensive weapons or nuclear technology to a country that seeks a nuclear bomb, targets civilians in Yemen, and disregards human rights at home.”
Kim (D-NJ) 2/27: Twitter thread, opening with: “I just finished reading the declassified memo on killing of #Khashoggi. I’ve read thousands of intel reports in my career in national security, but this one stands out. Here’s why we need to take this seriously and why we need to do more to hold Crown Prince accountable…”
Khanna (D-CA) 2/27: Tweet – “The US relationship with Saudi Arabia isn’t more important than our morality.” Linked to video of Khanna on CNN.
Menendez (D-NJ) 2/26: Twitter thread opening with – “1/ Today the U.S. government finally acknowledged what the rest of the world has already known: Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman personally approved the brutal kidnapping, dismemberment, and murder of journalist and American resident Jamal Khashoggi.”
Warner (D-VA) 2/26: Tweet – “For too long, the U.S. failed to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of journalist, dissident, and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi. I’m encouraged to see the new administration taking steps to rectify that by releasing this overdue congressionally mandated report.” Linked to article, US intelligence report finds Saudi Crown Prince responsible for approving operation that killed Khashoggi (CNN)
Schiff (D-CA) 2/26: Chairman Schiff Statement on Release of Report on Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder [also see video 2/26 – Rep. Schiff on MSNBC: We Must Hold Crown Prince Accountable and Re-evaluate U.S.-Saudi Relationship
Schiff (D-CA) 2/26: Tweet – “For two years, we pushed for the truth to be made public: The highest levels of the Saudi government, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, are responsible for the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. There must be accountability, and we will continue to press for it.”
Feinstein (D-CA) 2/26: Twitter thread, opening with – “The intelligence assessment of Saudi Arabia’s role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi confirms what the U.S. government has believed for more than two years: that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for Khashoggi’s brutal killing.”
Casey (D-PA) 2/26: Tweet – “I commend the Biden Administration’s transparency in releasing the intelligence report covering the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” Linked to, Biden Speaks With Saudi King; Unclear if Khashoggi Killing Was Discussed (NYT)
Durbin (D-IL) 2/26: Twitter thread – “This barbaric act joins a long list of Saudi outrages, including the ongoing detention of political prisoners Raif Badawi and Waleed Abu Al-Khair, as well as the continued harassment of religious minorities, foreign workers, journalists, women’s activists, and too many others” & “While we share a number of security interests, our continued relationship with Saudi Arabia must include accountability on these deeply troubling human rights matters.” Linked to, Saudi Crown Prince Is Held Responsible for Khashoggi Killing in U.S. Report (NYT)
Deutch (D-FL) 2/26: Tweet – “The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an outrageous crime, apparently approved by the highest levels of the Saudi Arabian gov’t. The visa restrictions & sanctions are good first steps but cannot represent the last word on this barbaric act.” Linked to pdf of his statement (statement not on his website as a press release)
McGovern (D-MA) 2/26: Tweet – “I called for an end to all arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the horrifying murder of Jamal Khashoggi. This report confirms what we already knew. Heinous criminal actions must have real consequences.” Linked to NBC News tweet – “BREAKING: Biden admin. releases intel report on 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi: ‘We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,’ US intel assessment says.”
Panetta (D-CA) 2/26: Tweet – “The intelligence report linking Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder with commands from Saudi leaders mandates that U.S.-Saudi relations be reexamined. As a nation that upholds individual rights, we must hold leaders that violate human rights accountable.”
Meeks (D-NY) 2/26: Meeks Issues Statement Regarding Unclassified Report on Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder
McCaul (R-TX) 2/26: Khashoggi Murder “Unjust and Gruesome Crime,” Supports New Khashoggi Ban [also see Twitter thread]
Omar (D-MN) 2/26: Rep. Omar Statement on Khashoggi Assassination Approved by Saudi Crown Prince
Articles and Reports Related to the Hill
Axios 3/4: Ro Khanna wary of Biden approach on Middle East
Jewish News Syndicate 3/4: Watchdog group calls on congressman to apologize for joining extremist’s event
Jewish Insider 3/4: Rep. Andy Levin addresses left-wing antisemitism, foreign policy and his own approach to Judaism [“Unlike many of his fellow Jewish lawmakers, Levin argues that antisemitism is not a serious issue on the left, strenuously defends colleagues Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) against accusations of antisemitism and allies himself closely with progressive activist movements.”]
JTA 3/3: Rep. Lee Zeldin considering run for New York governor
Times of Israel 3/2: Attacks on Israel should not come from US Congress [op-ed by South African Christian Zionist author, writing as a representative of IBSI – Institute for Black Solidary with Israel – attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar]
Arutz Sheva 3/2 (Yoram Ettinger): Congress – Israel’s most systematic and challenging ally [attacking Reps. McConnell (D-MN), Lee (D-CA), and others who allegedly “are estranged from the 400-year-old historical, cultural, moral and civic foundations of the US-Israel kinship; unfamiliar with Israel’s role as a unique force-multiplier for the US, and its contribution to the US defense industries, high tech sector, armed forces, counterterrorism and intelligence…overlook the US-Israel mutual threats and challenges, which transcend the Palestinian issue; inattentive of the adverse effect on US interests of the proposed Palestinian state, and are oblivious to the Arab view of the Palestinians as a role model for intra-Arab terrorism, subversion and treachery…are indifferent to Palestinian hate-education, which mirrors the Palestinian vision and breeds terrorists. They are uninformed about the enhancement of US interests by Israel’s control of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (the ‘West Bank’) and the Golan Heights. And, they are unaware of the deep incompatibility between Western values and norms, on the one hand, and the unpredictable, violent, treacherous Middle East reality, on the other hand.”]
The Hill (JINSA) 3/2: Biden and Congress must act against calls to condition aid to Israel
Politico 3/2: Biden administration still hasn’t briefed top senators on Syria strike [“Sen. Chris Murphy had to sit in on a staff briefing. He’s not thrilled with what he heard.”]
Times of Israel 3/2: Sanders lauds Israeli health officials for pushing to vaccinate Palestinians
Politico 3/1: The road to Joe Biden’s foreign policy runs through Bob Menendez
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (March-April edition): What the 70 New Members of Congress Reveal About Pro-Israel Politics in the United States
Defense News (FDD op-ed) 2/27: Senators are calling for a US-Israel working group, and it could save lives
Jewish Insider 3/1: Alex Lasry’s full-court press for the U. S. Senate [Re BDS: “I definitely think that movement is based on, and has a lot of ties to, antisemitism. It’s not something that I’m for. When I hear that, it does worry me. Israel is one of our strongest allies. We need to be able to talk to them and tell them when they’re doing stuff wrong. But that doesn’t mean that we’re punishing Israel or that we’re pulling funding or anything like that. What we need to make sure we’re doing is using our leadership to, hopefully, move Israel in a better direction if we think they are going off course, but also understanding that they’re a strong ally, and we can never desert them.”]
Jewish News Syndicate 2/26: ZOA denounces selection of McCollum as chair of House defense committee
Just Security 2/26: How Biden, Congress, and US Business and Civic Leaders Can Deliver Justice for Jamal Khashoggi
Free Beacon 2/26: New Bill Would Mandate Congress Approve Any Sanctions Relief for Iran