FMEP Legislative Round-Up: October 13, 2023


1.Bills, Resolutions
2. Letters
3. Hearings & Markups

NOTE: Given the scope and pace of current events — the absolute horror show of Hamas’s attack on Israel and the Israel reaction which at this point is clearly incipient genocide/ethnic cleansing — and given the for the most part morally reprehensible responses from members of Congress in terms of a non-stop stream of dehumanization of Palestinian civilians and support/celebration of military action targeting them, there is no “On the Record” section this week. Check members accounts on X or their websites for yourself if you want to see what they are saying. In general, if they are Democrats the message is: total support for/solidarity with Israel in its campaign and zero concern for even the existence of Palestinian civilians or what Israel is doing to them. From Republicans, it is largely the same, plus an almost universal narrative connecting the Hamas attack to Iran and implicitly or explicitly making the case for war against (and regime change in) Iran (and some Democrats are on these same talking points). And yes, a few Democrats have dared to utter even meek support/concern for Palestinians; they have, predictably, been pilloried by colleagues on both sides of the aisle as antisemites and apologists for terrorism. It is all just soul-crushing to follow, let alone to try to document comprehensively while also following the actual horror-show of genocide unfolding on the ground.

Also, there is no “media” section this week. Just too much to cover. All of it soul-crushing.

Also, for my views on where things are today (as of 4pm ET on 10/13/23, see my thread on the site formerly known as Twitter.


1. Bills, Resolutions & letters

Note: With no House Speaker, lots of legislation is being introduced but for now, that’s it (as in, it’s bills are not even being referred to committees. Total standstill).

Support for Israel/Support for Retaliation Against Gaza

(SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL) S. Res. XXX: On 10/13/23, Sens Cardin (D-MD) and Risch (R-ID) announced their intent to introduce a bipartisan resolution supporting Israel when the Senate returns to session next week. Cardin: “…I look forward to swiftly introducing a bipartisan resolution when the Senate reconvenes to demonstrate our ironclad support for Israel’s security.” Risch: “Support to Israel is already on the way, and Congress will work to speed up additional assistance as quickly as possible. I will also continue to press the administration to cut off Iranian resources that fuel these attacks.

(STANDING WITH ISRAEL, BACKING ISRAELI RETRIBUTION, TARGETING ALL FUNDING FOR PALESTINIANS, TARGETING IRAN) H. Res. 771 (text): Introduced 10/11/23 by McCaul (R-TX) and 414 cosponsors, “Standing with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists.NOTE: H. Res. 771 is identical to H. Res. 768: Introduced 10/10/23 by McCaul (R-TX) and 381 cosponsors (not clear why it was intro’d twice in 2 days). Under this resolution, the House resolves that: “(1) stands with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists; (2) reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense; (3) condemns Hamas’ brutal war against Israel; (4) calls on all countries to unequivocally condemn Hamas’ brutal war against Israel; (5) calls on Hamas to immediately cease these violent attacks and safely release all living hostages and return the bodies of deceased hostages; 6) mourns the over 900 Israelis and 11 Americans killed and over 2,600 others wounded in Hamas’ unprovoked attack on Israel; (7) reaffirms the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security, including through security assistance in accordance with the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding; (8) urges full enforcement of the Taylor Force Act (title X of division S of Public Law 115–141; 132 Stat. 1143) and other restrictions in United States law to prevent United States foreign assistance from benefiting terrorists, directly or indirectly; (9) condemns Iran’s support for terrorist groups and proxies, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad; (10) urges full enforcement of United States sanctions against Iran to prevent Iran’s funding of terrorist groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and (11) stands ready to assist Israel with emergency resupply and other security, diplomatic, and intelligence support.” Also see: McCaul press release – McCaul, Meeks Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Standing with Israel; Meeks press release; In Washington, a massive show of support for Israel on Capitol Hill (Jewish Insider 10/11/23)

(STANDING WITH ISRAEL, BACKING ISRAELI RETRIBUTION) H. Res. 770:  Introduced 10/10/23 by Nunn (R-IA) and 32 cosponsors, “Condemning an act of war against Israel by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and associated forces, and for other purposes.

(SUPPLEMENTAL $$ FOR ISRAEL) HR 5918 (text): Introduced 10/10/23 by Tenney (R-NY) and Gottheimer (D-NY), the “‘Operation Swords of Iron’ Iron Dome Supplemental Appropriations Act.” NOTE: this bill seeks to provide $2 billion in supplemental appropriations for Israel for Iron Dome in 2024 – an approach that is somewhat bizarre, given that the regular appropriations that this would supplement have not, in fact, been passed by Congress. Also see: Tenney press release – Congresswoman Tenney Stands with Israel and Introduces Legislation to Restock Israel’s Iron Dome Defense System; Gottheimer press release – Gottheimer, Tenney Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Resupply Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System;Proposal to pair Israel, Ukraine funding boosts appears to be a nonstarter in the House (Jewish Insider 10/11/23)

(NO AID TO PA) HR 5952: Introduced 10/12/23 by Steele (R-CA), “To prohibit United States funds to the Palestinian Authority.” No text available yet. Also see: EXCLUSIVE: Republican congresswoman launches bid to STOP U.S. sending hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Palestinians following Hamas atrocity in Israel (Daily Mail 10/13/23 – excerpt – “In exchange for aid, the Palestinian Authority would have to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state, remove and bar Hamas from any government position and condemn terrorism.”)

(SEN. TUBERVILLE: STOP THREATENING US & ISRAELI SECURITY!) H. Res. 778: Introduced 10/11/23 by Ryan (D-NY and 10 cosponsors (all Democrats),  “Demanding Senator Tommy Tuberville stop threatening United States and Israel security.”  Also see: Ryan press release – Congressman Pat Ryan Introduces Legislation Demanding Tommy Tuberville Stop Threatening US and Israeli Security, Lift Month-Long Nominiation Holds.

(CUT OFF ALL FUNDS TO PALESTINIANS & FREEZE IRAN $$) H. Res. 776Introduced  10/11/23 by Lawler (R-NY) and 8 cosponsors (all Republicans), “Urging the Biden administration to rescind the release of $6,000,000,000 in frozen Iranian funds and to lawfully enforce the Taylor Force Act.

(TARGETING REP. TLAIB FOR DARING TO CARE ABOUT PALESTINIANS) H. Res. 772 (text): Introduced 10/11/23 by Bergman (R-MI) and 7 cosponsors (all Republicans), “Censuring Representative Rashida Tlaib.” The “whereas” clauses reprise all the usual attacks on Tlaib, conflating her criticism of Israel with antisemitism; the resolution resolves that the House, “(1) censures Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib; (2) stands with the State of Israel and rejects anti-semitism in all its forms; and (3) renounces fringe beliefs that the State of Israel is an apartheid State.” Also see Bergman’s press release – Bergman Introduces Resolution Censuring Tlaib for Antisemitism

(CONDEMNING THE NYC DSA FOR PROTESTING ISRAEL ATTACKS ON GAZA) H. Res. 775 (text): Introduced by Lawler (R-NY) and 12 cosponsors (all Republicans), “Condemning the New York City-Democratic Socialists of America (NYC-DSA) antisemitic and anti-Israel rally on October 8, 2023.


Iran (Including using Hamas Attack As Hook To Go After Palestinians & Iran)

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 5945 (text): Introduced 10/12/23 by Meuser (R-PA) and 12 cosponsors (all Republicans) , “To reinstate certain sanctions imposed with respect to Iran.” This bill would reinstate any sanctions that were waived in connection with the release of frozen Iranian assets in the context of the recent prisoner exchange agreement, re-freeze those assets, and prohibit any future effort to unfreeze them. Also see: Rep. Meuser Introduces Legislation to Freeze $6 Billion to Iran

(IRAN SANCTION) HR 5947: Introduced 10/12/23 by Pfluger (R-TX) and 106 cosponsors (all Republicans), “To provide for the rescission of certain waivers and licenses relating to Iran, and for other purposes.” Also see: press release – Pfluger Leads 100+ Republicans in Blocking Iran from Accessing $6 Billion. Also see Pfluger X-post – “The Biden Administration’s ‘quiet understanding’ is not good enough. They must plainly reject any funds going to Iran. I just dropped a bill with 100+ lawmakers to block access. If the President refuses to permanently freeze the funds, Congress will.

(AMCIT GAZA HOSTAGES AS HOOK TO TARGET IRAN/RE-FREEZE $$ FROM PRISONER EXCHANGE) H. Res. 777: Introduced 10/11/23 by Miller-Meeks (R-IA) and 29 cosponsors (all Republicans), “Urging the Biden administration to demand the release of all hostages in Gaza.”  Per Miller-Meeks’ press rlease, this resolution: “(1) urges the Biden Administration to demand the release of all hostages in Gaza; (2) urges the Biden Administration to maintain all applicable sanctions on the Iranian regime, and return to a policy of maximum sanctions pressure; (3) urges the Biden Administration to utilize all other coercive and diplomatic resources at its disposal as necessary to secure the release of Americans wrongfully detained in Gaza; and (4) demands the Biden Administration to refreeze the $6,000,000,000 in Iranian funds released September 11, 2023, for their continued financial support and encouragement of Palestinian terrorist organizations.”

(BLOCKING $$ FOR US-IRAN PRISONER EXCHANGE; CONDITIONING ALL FUTURE UNFREEZING OF IRAN ASSETS ON IRAN COMPENSATING ISRAEL FOR COSTS OF CURRENT WAR; CONFISCATE IRAN’S FROZEN ASSETS AND USE THEM TO FUND MORE ISRAELI ASSISTANCE) HR 5932 (text): Introduced 10/11/23 by Schweikert (R-AZ) and 11 cosponsors (all Republicans), the “Fortify Israel Act,” aka, “To authorize additional assistance to Israel using assets confiscated from the Iran, and for other purposes.” This legislation would block release of any Iranian assets frozen by the U.S. until the President certifies to Congress that “(1) hostilities between Hamas and other Iranian-backed groups and Israel have ceased; and (2)(A) full compensation has been made to Israel for harms resulting from the invasion of Israel by Hamas and other Iranian-backed groups; or (B) Iran is participating in a bona fide international mechanism that, by agreement, will discharge the obligations of Iran to compensate Israel for all amounts determined to be owed to Israel.” It would also give Congress the power to block the unfreezing of any such assets (assuming the certification has been made). And it would authorize the President to confiscate any frozen Iranian assets, including the assets that are supposed to be released under the recent prisoner exchange agreement, and use those assets instead to establish a fund to provide assistance to Israel.  Alse see: Schweikert press release – Schweikert Introduces Legislation Redirecting Frozen Iranian Assets to Support Israel

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 5923: Introduced 10/11/23 by Lawler (R-TX) and 3 cosponsors [including 1 Democrat – Gottheimer, D-NY], “To impose restrictions on correspondent and payable-through accounts in the United States with respect to Chinese financial institutions that conduct transactions involving the purchase of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran.”

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 5921 (text): Introduced 10/11/23 by Huizenga (R0MI) and 18 cosponsors (all Republicans), the “No U.S. Financing for Iran Act”, aka, To prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from authorizing certain transactions by a United States financial institution in connection with Iran, to prevent the International Monetary Fund from providing financial assistance to Iran, to codify prohibitions on Export-Import Bank financing for the Government of Iran, and for other purposes. As summarized in Huizenga’s press release, this legislation:  “Prohibits the Secretary of Treasury from authorizing transactions by U.S. financial institutions to Iran for any goods, services, or technology…does not apply to the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, or medical devices benefitting the civilian population of Iran“; “Prevents the IMF from providing financial assistance to Iran and the allocation of Special Drawing Rights” and “Codifies the statutory authority for the prohibition on the Export-Import Bank financing with respect to Iran. The Bank may not guarantee, insure, or extend credit in connection with any transaction for Iran or a government-controlled entity.

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 5912: Introduced 10/6/23 by Waltz (R-FL) and no cosponsors, “To continue in effect certain Executive orders imposing sanctions with respect to Iran, to prevent the waiver of certain sanctions imposed by the United States with respect to Iran until the Government of Iran ceases to attempt to assassinate United States officials, other United States citizens, and Iranian nationals residing in the United States, and for other purposes.



(DISCLOSURE OF FOREIGN $$ OF ACADEMIA) HR 5933 (text): Introduced 10/11/23 by Steel (R-CA) and 13 cosponsors (all Republicans), “To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require additional information in disclosures of foreign gifts and contracts from foreign sources, restrict contracts with certain foreign entities and foreign countries of concern, require certain staff and faculty to report foreign gifts and contracts, and require disclosure of certain foreign investments within endowments.”  Also see Steel press release, Steel, Foxx Bill Will Deter Foreign Adversaries’ Influence in Postsecondary Education


2. Letters

(WELL-INTENTIONED LETTER TRYING TO SHOW CONCERN FOR PALESTINIANS) Schakowsky et al letter to Biden & Blinken: On 10/13/23, Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL) led a clearly well-intentioned letter, cosigned by 55 fellow House Democrats, urging President Biden and SecState Blinken to “express our concerns regarding the unfolding humanitarian situation in Gaza as Israel responds to Hamas’ terrorist attack.” In addition to condemning Hamas, the signers note: “As efforts are made to rescue hostages, we urge those carrying out military operations to follow international humanitarian law and protect innocent civilian lives on both sides. We strongly agree with the President’s sentiment that, ‘democracies like Israel and the United States are stronger and more secure when we act according to the rule of law.’ We are deeply concerned about the order to evacuate over a million civilians out of northern Gaza in 24 hours and the devastating humanitarian consequences that would ensue. We are also deeply concerned by the recent comments from Israel Defense Forces leaders that call for a ‘complete siege,’ of the Gaza Strip. As both the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights said, imposing a complete siege on Gaza and depriving 2.3 million Palestinian civilians who have nowhere else to go—half of whom are children—of food, water, and electricity, would be a violation of international humanitarian law.”  The letter goes on to urge that the Administration: “1. Communicate that Israel’s response in Gaza must be carried out according to international law and take all due measures to limit harm to innocent civilians; 2. Work to quickly restore the delivery of food, water, fuel, electricity, and other life-saving necessities to Gaza to ensure that innocent civilians have the basics needed for survival; 3. Collaborate with regional partners to establish a humanitarian corridor to enable the delivery of such life-saving necessities and to allow Palestinian civilians and foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, to seek safe haven outside of Gaza [note: even well-intentioned calls for a safe haven outside of Gaza are understood by Palestinians – correctly – as legitimizing what would almost certainly become another round of permanent displacement for Palestinians, akin to what happened in 1948 when they fled their homes in wartime and were never permitted to return]; 4. Publicly discourage any hate crimes and backlash against any American—including Jews and Muslims—including by communicating to the American people that Hamas is not the Palestinian people and the Palestinian people are not Hamas; and 5. Ensure that supplemental funding requests to Congress include humanitarian assistance for both Palestinians in Gaza and Israelis.”  It also notes: “However this current conflict plays out, we feel strongly that the US government and the global community must continue the tough work to achieve lasting peace in the region. The future and safety of Israelis and Palestinians are intertwined. We cannot achieve lasting peace and security for Israelis without addressing the humanitarian crises in Gaza and the West Bank. [note: focusing on the “humanitarian crises” in the West Bank and Gaza, as opposed to talking about the structural violence and apartheid inherent in Israel’s rule in these areas, is deeply concerning, and aligns neatly with longstanding Israeli efforts to in effect erase Palestinians as a political issue or a people with legitimate claims and aspiration, and instead relegate them to merely a humanitarian issue requiring humanitarian intervention only]. Also see press release – Schakowsky, Pocan, Jayapal, McGovern Lead 55 Members in Letter Condemning Hamas Attacks, Urging Protection of Innocent Civilian Lives

(MORE $$ FOR SECURITY FOR US JEWS DUE TO ISRAEL SITUATION) Gallego/Lawler letter to House Approps leaders: On 10/13/23, Reps. Gallego (R-AZ) and Lawler (R-NY) sent a letter to House Approps Chair Granger (R-TX) and ranking member DeLauro (D-CT), urging additional resources for the Non-Profit Security Grant Program. They note: “Following the recent horrific Hamas-led terrorist attacks in Israel, we have seen protests across the country that have fostered anti-Semitic rhetoric and hate speech, and previous conflicts between Israel and Gaza-based terrorist organizations have led to increased anti-Semitism here at home. We are deeply concerned for the safety of 5.8 million American Jewish people – as Hamas has made clear, their conflict is not just with Israel, it is with Jewish people everywhere.” Also see – Gallego, Lawler Call for Increased Security Funding for Nonprofit Institutions

(DEAR QATAR: STOP SUPPORTING HAMAS…[the “or else” is implied]) Ogles/Biggs letter to Qatari Ambassador: On 10/12/23 Reps. Ogles (R-TN) and Biggs (R-AZ) sent a letter to the Qatari Ambassador to the US, “with grave concern regarding Hamas’s unprovoked and criminal assault against the State of Israel.” Ogles notes: “Your nation’s public statements following the attack against Israel fail to inspire much confidence that Qatar is working toward the common good. Such statements have blamed Israel for the pain they are enduring and have reiterated Doha’s view that ‘the international community [needs] to compel Israel to cease its blatant violations of international law.” These sentiments are neither factually accurate nor helpful; if anything, they are serving to embolden those terrorists waging war and capturing American and Israeli hostages. The whole world has seen how Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was able to celebrate his group’s ‘victory’ from his office in Doha – rightfully raising questions among the American people regarding the extent of the relationship between Qatar and Hamas.” The letter thanks Qatar for freezing Iranian funds released in the context of the recent prisoner exchange agreement, and closes: “Qatar can be a responsible state actor that eschews terrorism and violence and paves the path for peace. Whether or not it does so depends on what your government chooses to do next. We urge your nation to: 1). Unequivocally condemn Hamas; 2). Extradite Hamas’s leadership from Doha; and 3). Work with the Biden Administration to ensure that Iran never sees the aforementioned funds.

(CONCERN FOR AMCITS IN GAZA & WEST BANK) Jacobs et al letter to Blinken: On 10/12/23, Rep. Jacobs (D-CA) led a letter, cosigned by 16 fellow House Democrats, to SecState Blinken, stating: “Thank you for everything the Department of State is doing to help Americans impacted by the war in Israel. We are all devastated by Hamas’ horrific, inexcusable attacks, and all of the innocent civilians who have been kidnapped, killed, or trapped in the crossfire in Israel and Gaza. While we have received frequently updated resources for Americans in Israel, we write to express our concern about the lack of clear information available to our constituents and other Americans who are trying to leave Gaza and the West Bank. Many of them are unclear about what services the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is providing to help Palestinian Americans and American citizens living, working, and traveling in Gaza and the West Bank. As the United States Government works with regional partners to help provide safe passage for civilians to leave the region, we request the Department make efforts to expand their guidance to include additional details pertinent to Palestinian Americans and American citizens in Gaza and the West Bank, ensure embassy staff fluent in Arabic are available to assist them, and publicize this information in an accessible manner.” Also see: Rep. Sara Jacobs Calls on State Department to Expand Resources for Palestinian Americans and Americans in Gaza, West Bank

(EXTEND IRS FILING DEADLINE FOR AMCITS AFFECTED BY HAMAS ATTACKS) Raskin letter to the IRS: On 10/12/23 Rep. Raskin (D-MD) sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel requesting that the IRS extend the  October 16, 2023 federal tax filing and payment extension deadline for Americans “affected by the horrific
and devastating terrorist attacks against Israel.” NOTE: Americans affected by Israel’s massive military campaign in Gaza (there are hundreds of American citizens living in Gaza) do not merit mention in the letter. Also see:
Rep. Raskin Urges IRS to Extend Tax Filing Deadlines for Americans Affected by Terrorist Attacks in Israel

(LINKING IRGC TO HAMAS ATTACK; CALLING FOR FREEZE OF $$ FOR IRAN IN PRISONER EXCHANGE) Gallagher et al letter to POTUS: On 10/12/23, Rep. Gallagher (R-WI) led a letter, cosigned by 97 fellow House members (all Republicans), opening with: “Recent reports of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) involvement in planning and giving the ‘final go-ahead’ for Hamas’s terrorist war on Israel demands an immediate response…” The letter goes on to call on President Biden to freeze “the $6 billion provided in exchange for hostages, as well as the $10 billion in released funds based in Iraq, and withhold all waivers, general licenses and specific licenses for the use of use of such funds”; to fully enforce “sanctions on Iranian oil exports to China, which have been unenforced for months, despite China’s crude oil imports from Iran having set a new record” and to “Prevent Iran from accessing any further Special Drawing Rights (SDR) from the International Monetary Fund, through which they have quick access to $6.7 billion, and blocking the further provision of funds to Iran in upcoming SDR packages.” Also see: Gallagher Leads Bipartisan Call for President Biden to Re-Freeze Funds Released to Iran

(FREEZE IRANIAN RELEASED $$) Rosen et al letter to Blinken: On 10/12/23, Sen. Rosen (D-NV) led a letter, cosigned by 13 Senate colleagues (bipartisan) to SecState Blinken opening: “We write to you in light of Hamas’ violent and horrific terrorist attacks on Israel on October 7 which killed over a thousand innocent civilians, including American citizens. Given Iran’s history of supporting acts of terrorism through Hamas, the United States must do everything in its power in the wake of this brutal attack to ensure that Iran is not in a position to continue funding Hamas’ terrorist activities in Israel and throughout the Middle East. While we understand that there are reports of an agreement with Qatar to freeze $6 billion in Iranian assets, we urge you to make this decision official U.S. policy and continue your efforts to limit Iran’s ability to provide support to Hamas.” It closes: “While the U.S. intelligence community continues to assess Iran’s role in the October 7 terrorist attacks, it is clear that Iran’s support for Hamas has sustained the terrorist group, ensuring that Hamas had the means to carry out their abhorrent attack on Israel. Iran has been unrelenting in its backing of terrorist groups in an effort to expand its malign influence in the Middle East. We therefore strongly urge you to make it official U.S. policy to freeze the $6 billion in Iranian assets currently held in Qatar, and continue to hold Iran accountable for its violent and destabilizing actions, including direct support of Hamas. We look forward to working with you to assist Israel in its time of need and ensure it has the resources and tools needed to defend itself against Iranian-sponsored terrorism.” Also see: Rosen, Ernst Lead Bipartisan Group of Senators Pushing Biden Administration to Officially Freeze Iranian Assets

(OPENING HOUSE INVESTIGATION INTO BIDEN ADMIN FOR USE OF OFFICIALS TIED TO IRANIAN REGIME) Comer/Grothman letter to Blinken: On 10/11/23, Reps. Comer (R-KY) and Grothman (R-WI) sent a letter to SecState Blinken informing him: “The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating the Biden Administration’s efforts to conceal details about its ongoing secret nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran from Congress, ignoring statutory obligations for congressional oversight. The Administration’s lack of transparency is even more troubling in light of press reports about Iran’s direct role in this weekend’s horrific attack on Israel by Hamas and additional revelations that former Special Envoy for Iran (SEI), Robert Malley, and members of his negotiating team may have had compromising ties to the Iranian regime. We request documents, information, and a briefing to assist the Committee’s investigation of these matters…” Also see: Comer & Grothman Investigate Biden Administration’s Use of Officials with Compromising Ties to Iranian Regime in Secret Negotiations

(PROTECT JEWISH STUDENTS FROM PROTEST FOR PALESTINIANS WHO ARE NOW BEING BOMBED OUT OF EXISTENCE) Walberg et al letter to Education Secretary Cardona: On 10/11/23, Rep; Walberg (R-MI) led a letter, cosigned by 43 House colleagues (seem to all be Republicans but check for yourself), to Secretary of Education Cardona arguing, in effect, that pro-Palestinian demonstrations on U.S. campuses are by definition acts of antisemitism and therefore must be prevented according to schools’ “legal obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” and calling on the Department of Education to put campuses that allow such demonstrations at the top of their list of campuses to visit as part the Department’s “Antisemitism Awareness Campaign.” The letter direct Cardona to “immediately inform us of any actions that have been a part of the Antisemitism Awareness Campaign, including any prior or planned campus visits.” Also see: Walberg Leads Colleagues in Demanding Safety for Jewish Students on College Campuses

(UPDATE CONGRESS ON ACTIONS TO HOLD IRAN ACCOUNTABLE FOR VIOLATING THE JCPOA – YES, THE SAME JCPOA THAT TRUMP PULLED THE US OUT OF] Letter to SecState Blinken: On 10/11/23, Sen. Rubio (R-FL) led a letter, cosigned by 14 Senate colleagues (all Republicans) to SecState Blinken. The press release accompanying the letter explains: “Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio led Republican colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting an update on U.S. action to hold Iran accountable for the multiple violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Back in 2015, the JCPOA was signed by the Obama Administration, Iran, and other countries agreeing to place restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. One condition included the JCPOA tasking the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure the regime in Tehran adheres to nuclear restrictions. Even with the signed agreement, Iran proves to be non-compliant and further continues nuclear programs.

(SEND MORE ASSISTANCE TO AMCITS IN ISRAEL) Hawley letter to Binken: On 10/11/23, Rep. Hawley (R-MO) sent a letter to SecState Blinken urging him to “consider additional U.S government-facilitated transport options for Americans attempting to return home” from Israel (Americans in Gaza and the West Bank merit no mention in the letter). Hawely also asks for answers “as soon as possible” to a series of questions: “1. Is the State Department actively planning to provide additional travel assistance to Americans in Israel? 2. Is the Department or any other U.S. agencies planning to conduct airlifts or equivalent government-facilitated transportation to help Americans in the region return home? 3. If plans have been made, how will the State Department communicate those travel options? 4. When can Americans expect information on how to return home? When can we expect decisions about transportation options to be made?” Also see: Hawley press release

(GIVE MORE IRON DOME & MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL) Rosen/Rounds/Gillibrand/Scott letter to SecDef Austin: On 10/10/23, Sens. Rounds (R-SD), Rosen (D-NV), Gillibrand (R-NY) and Scott (R-FL) sent a letter to SecDef Austin urging: “As you know, the United States Army is currently in possession of two Iron Dome batteries that have not been deployed and have no operational use inside the United States where they are currently stored. Immediately transferring these two Iron Dome batteries that are not in use to Israel would provide tangible, life-saving and sustained support to our ally as it faces rocket and missile salvos that threaten to overwhelm its defenses. We likewise implore you to provide Israel with other defensive assets that could be useful as it faces this  unprecedented onslaught of terrorist violence.” Also see: press release

(CONDEMN HAMAS ATTACKS, BLAME BIDEN ADMIN DUE TO $$ FOR IRAN, AND DON’T YOU DARE CALL FOR “RESTRAINT!”) McCaul et al letter to Biden: On 10/10/23, Rep. McCaul (R-TX) led a letter, cosigned by 17 fellow House Republicans, to President Biden, to “strongly condemn the abhorrent terrorist attacks by Iran-backed Hamas...” The letter goes on: “We are also deeply concerned about the administration’s recent actions, including its wrongful and misguided decision on the anniversary of September 11, to release $6 billion in frozen funds as part of a prisoner exchange to the Iranian regime, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. While apparently no funds have been spent yet and reportedly will only be used for humanitarian aid, this action surely has freed up Iran’s other funding streams to bankroll its proxies like Hamas that carried out this deadly and large-scale terrorist attack against Israel. According to reports, the Iranian regime was involved in plotting and approved the attacks on Israel.” It also calls out the Administration over SecState Blinken tweeting – and then deleting posts seeming to suggest lack of support for Israeli retaliation against the Gaza Strip, noting: “These initial reactions from your administration are very concerning. Your administration’s foreign policy has resulted in a number of national security failures and demonstrated utter weakness on the world stage. We must affirm that Israel has every right to respond to these barbaric acts of terror.” And it closes: “We plan to convene a hearing to not only examine the persistent threats posed by the Iranian regime’s campaign to direct operations against U.S. persons, dissidents, or other targets in the U.S. homeland, while they call for the ‘death of Israel’ and ‘death to America,’ but will also include a critical discussion about these horrific acts of terror and what they mean for our homeland security during these uncertain times. We urge you to immediately re-examine your actions and inactions on Iran and its terrorist proxies and provide Israel with whatever assistance is needed to respond to these terrorists. While you say that your administration stands with the State of Israel, we certainly expect your actions will follow accordingly. We stand ready to do our part.” Also see – McCaul, Homeland Republicans Condemn Terrorist Attacks on Israel, Express Concern Over Admin’s Dealings With Iran

(IRAN IS BEHIND HAMAS ATTACKS; G7 MUST SANCTION IT SEVERELY) Scott et al letter to POTUS: On 10/10/23, Sen. Scott (R-FL) led a letter, cosigned by 9 fellow Senate Republicans, to President Biden. The core of the letter: “We know that the Iranian regime is behind the brutal attacks on innocent civilians being carried out by terrorists from Hamas and Palestinian Jihad. The United States and our allies cannot ignore this reality for a second longer. We the undersigned senators urge you to immediately convene the G7 nations and take coordinated action to further isolate Iran with severe sanctions and action that will strike directly at the wealth that this evil brings to the Ayatollah and the Iranian mullahs.” It goes on: “We have seen the responses from your administration regarding your decision to unfreeze $6 billion of Iranian oil revenue. Mr. President, money is fungible and if you truly believe that this decision did not play a role in the brutality Hamas unleashed on Israel last weekend, you are gravely mistaken. We urge you to immediately reverse your decision regarding these funds and, as the leader of the free world, lead America’s partners and allies in securing agreements from as many nations as possible to take the most severe economic and diplomatic action against Iran possible under law.” Also see: Scott press release.

(RE-FREEZE IRAN $$ UNFROZED FOR PRISONER DEAL) Blackburn et al letter to POTUS: On 10/9/23 Sen. Blackburn (R-TN) led a letter, cosigned by 19 fellow Senate Republicans, to President Biden, calling on the State Department “to freeze the accounts in Qatar containing $6 billion in Iranian funds that were released from South Korean accounts in September.” The letter goes on: “To stand by and allow Iran access to these funds as Hamas infiltrates Israel and murders, rapes, and mutilates countless Israelis is unconscionable. Your administration claims these funds are only available for humanitarian use, but money is fungible, and there is a significant risk they could be used to further efforts by Iran or Hamas against Israel. Moreover, allowing $6 billion to flow into Iran’s economy, even if the purpose is for humanitarian aid, allows the Iranian regime to reallocate even more funds to supporting terrorism…” Also see: Blackburn press release

(HELP GET NEW YORKERS OUT OF ISRAEL) Meng letter to Blinken: On 10/9/23, Rep. Meng (D-NY) sent a letter to SecState Blinken stating, “While I appreciate the steps the Biden administration is taking to provide additional security assistance to Israel, I urge the State Department to use all resources at its disposal to help those Americans that remain in Israel return to the United States. As you are aware, airlines have cancelled most flights out of Ben Gurion Airport, and some have suspended operations in the region. As the number of casualties continues to rise, my constituents who remain in Israel fear for their lives.” She goes on: “Given the fluid situation on the ground, I ask that you provide my office with an update as soon as possible as to the status of the State Department’s efforts to assist Americans in returning to the United States. This includes ensuring that commercial flights remain accessible to all Americans who remain in Israel and the Department’s efforts to stay in contact with all those looking to leave. I ask that the Department also provide an update on other opportunities for evacuation, including chartered flights or military aircraft. As our allies and partners begin to explore this option for their respective citizens that remain in Israel, I urge the Department to consider these options, simultaneously.” Notably, Americn citizens in the West Bank and Gaza do not merit mention in the letter. Also see: Meng press release NOTE: This letter was subsequently re-released with a change in pronouns (from “I” to “we”, a new date (10/10) and a long list of cosigners.

(HELP GET NEW YORKERS OUT OF ISRAEL) Chris Smith letter to Blinken: On 10/9/23, Rep. Smith (R-NJ) sent a letter to SecState Blinken urging urging him “to use all appropriate U.S. resources and tools to arrange for the immediate evacuation of American citizens in Israel who are desperately trying to return home.” He closes: “Given the unprecedentedly savage nature of Hamas’s sneak attack—which included the abduction and threat to execute hostages, the systematic committing of unspeakable atrocities on civilians, and the threat that Iran or its proxies will act to trigger general war in the region—we have an obligation to give Israel the support it needs to definitively defeat its terrorist enemies. At the same time, you must move heaven and earth to get U.S. citizens out from harm’s way. Every American who is looking to return home must have the opportunity to do so.” Notably, Americn citizens in the West Bank and Gaza do not merit mention in the letter. Also see: Smith press release

(BIDEN – YOU SUCK! ALSO, SUPPORT ISRAEL NOW!) Tennessee Republicans’ letter to POTUS: On 10/8/23, 9 Republican members the Tennessee delegation in Congress (House and Senate) sent a letter – led by Sen. Blackburn (R-TN), to President Biden, opening with: “We write today to express our unwavering support for Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East, and our outrage at your administration’s failed leadership on the international stage.” The letter then goes on to slam the Biden Administration for calling for “refrain from violence” on the part of Israel (linking to a meek Biden Administration X-post that, in fact, was immediately deleted) and asserting that “So far, the administration’s response has been far weaker than Israel—a shining beacon of democracy and our most important ally in the Middle East—deserves”; suggesting that the Biden Administration bears responsibility for  Hamas’s attack: “The failures of this administration on the world stage have no doubt emboldened those who would wish America and our allies harm“; and asserting: “The world needs American leadership, and this administration has left a void that the New Axis of Evil and terrorist groups like Hamas have already begun exploiting.” The letter closes: “We urge this administration to support Israel however possible, including by providing any and all weapons and munitions necessary, and to punish the terrorists who did this, along with those who aid them. We must act swiftly and strongly.” Also see: Blackburn press release

(GIVE US ANSWERS RE MALLEY & IRAN INFLUENCE CAMPAIGN) Risch/McCaul/Hagerty/Mast letter to Blinken: On 10/6/23, Sens. Risch (R-ID) and Hagerty (R-TN), along with Reps. McCaul (R-TX) and Mast (R-FL) sent a letter to SecState Biden to express “deep concerns with allegations surrounding Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley and an alleged Iranian regime-sponsored influence campaign in the United States.” After laying out all the allegations, the letter presents a long list of questions regarding Malley, DOD official Ariane Tabatabai, and what the State Department is doing to investigate, requesting “immediate” answers. Also see: press release; Free Beacon article


3. Hearings & Markups

October 19, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a markup of various measures related to Iran and the Palestinians, including:

  • HR 5826, “To require a report on sanctions under the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act, and for other purposes.”
  • HR 3774, “To impose additional sanctions with respect to the importation or facilitation of the importation of petroleum products from Iran, and for other purposes.
  • HR. 3266, “To require the Secretary of State to submit annual reports reviewing the curriculum used by the Palestinian Authority, and for other purposes.
  • H. Res. 559, “Declaring it is the policy of the United States that a nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran is not acceptable.”
  • HR 2973, “To require the Secretary of Defense to develop, in cooperation with allies and partners in the Middle East, an integrated maritime domain awareness and interdiction capability, and for other purposes.”
  • HR 340, “To impose sanctions with respect to foreign support for terrorist organizations, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  • H. Res. 599, “Urging the European Union to designate Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.”

October 19, 2023: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing to consider various nominations include the nomination of Herro Mustapha to be the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt.

October 18, 2023: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing to consider the nomination of Jacob Lew to be the U.S. Ambassador to Israel.

October 18, 2023: The House Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing entitled, An Examination of the Iranian Regime’s Threats to Homeland Security. Scheduled witnesses are: Nathan Sales (former Department of State), Masih Alinejad (Author and Activist), Robert Greenway (Heritage Foundation) and Thomas  Warrick (Atlantic Council)