FMEP Legislative Round-Up: October 2, 2020


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

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

Shameless plugs:

On October 1, FMEP convened a webinar entitled, “Foreign Influence: How Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs Funded Lobbying & Extremism in the U.S.” Panelists were: Itamar Benzaquen (The Seventh Eye), Noa Landau (Ha’aretz), and Or Sadan (Movement for Freedom of Information) – in conversation with FMEP’s Lara Friedman. Video of the webinar is here; links to articles discussed during the webinar and related materials are here.

On October 6, FMEP will convene a webinar entitled, “Is it Time to Reform International Aid to Palestine?” Panelists will be: Inès Abdel Razek (Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy), Zayne Abudaka (Economist and Private-Sector Development Specialist), and Dr. Alaa Tartir (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva) – – in conversation with FMEP’s Lara Friedman. Full details and registration link are here.

On October 8, the Progressive Israel Network will host an online showing of “The Settlers’ Billionaire Backer,” an Investigative Documentary by BBC News Arabic, Produced by Uri Blau and Rosie Garthwaite, followed by a discussion with in Uri Blau, Rosie Garthwaite, and the New Israel Fund’s Libby Lenkinski. Full details and registration link are here.

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(WE <HEART> ISRAEL’S QME) HR 8494 (text): Introduced 10/1 by Schneider (D-IL) and 17 cosponsors (14 Democrats, 3 Republicans), “To reaffirm the critical role of congressional consultation and to require appropriate deliberation to assess the effects of the sale or export of major defense equipment to countries in the Middle East on the qualitative military edge of Israel, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Reminder: Scheinder led a letter to Trump sent 9/10 expressing concerns about the potential sale of F-35s to the UAE.

(HONORING YITZHAK RABIN> S. Res. 745 & H. Res. 1173: Introduced 10/1 in the Senate by Cardin (D-MD) and 8 bipartisan cosponsors,  and in the House by Phillips (D-MN) and 6 cosponsors (of which 1 is a Republican), resolutions “honoring the life, legacy, and example of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the 25th anniversary of his death.” Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. House press release is here; Senate press release is here. Jewish Insider – Senators and members of the House introduce bipartisan resolution honoring Rabin [Re timing, given recent controversy on the topic of Rabin: “This resolution is an updated version of a similar resolution introduced in 2015 in honor of the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s death…work on the resolution started a month ago, before the controversy began, according to a Capitol Hill staffer familiar with the resolution.]

(SURE, NOW IS A GREAT TIME FOR FAR-REACHING NEW LEBANON SANCTIONS!) HR 8445: Introduced 9/20 by Wilson (R-SC) and 12 Republican cosponsors, “To impose certain measures with respect to Hezbollah-dominated areas in Lebanon and Latin America and to impose sanctions with respect to senior foreign political figures in Lebanon, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua supporting Hezbollah.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Financial Services Committee. Wilson’s press release is here. Also see: Free Beacon 10/1 – Republicans Push Far-Reaching Sanctions on Hezbollah and Its Allies

(AZERBAIJAN/ARMENIA/TURKEY) H. Res. 1165: Introduced 10/1 by Speier (D-CA) and 35 cosponsors, “Condemning Azerbaijan’s military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh and denouncing Turkish interference in the conflict.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Press releases: Costa (D-CA)


(REDUCE ARMENIA/AZERBAIJAN TENSIONS) Schiff et al letter to Pompeo: On 10/1, Reps. Schiff (D-CA), Pallone (D-NJ), and Speier (D-CA) led a letter to SecState Pompeo – cosigned by 46 House colleagues (bipartisan) expressing concern with the escalating conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Press release is here.

2. Hearings & Markups (and an event)

10/1: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a markup (video of the mark-up is here) that included:

  • H. Res. 1077, Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the continued importance of the US–Lebanon relationship (Introduced 7/31/20 by Lahood, R-IL)
  • H. Res. 17, Expressing concern over the detention of Austin Tice, and for other purposes (Introduced 1/3/19 by Green, T-TX)
  • HR 4507, Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act (Introduced 9/26/19 by Connolly, D-VA); and
  • H. Res. 823, Condemning the Government of Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights (Introduced 1/30/20 by Deutch, D-FL).

10/1: The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) hosted a 3-panel public virtual conference entitled, “Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia: A Critical Look.” Panel 1, entitled “Repression Under the Crown Prince: Surveillance, Abductions, and Hit Squads,” will feature remarks from experts as well as from Sen. Kaine (D-VA) and Reps. Van Hollen (D-MD), Connolly (D-VA), Khanna (D-CA), Malinowski (D-NJ), McGovern (D-MA), and Trone (D-MD). Video of the event is here.

3. On the Record

Members on Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

Portman (R-OH), Risch (R-ID), Rubio (R-FL), & Johnson (R-WI) 10/1: Armenia and Azerbaijan Must immediately Cease Violence

Gabbard (D-HI) 9/30: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Condemns Azeri Military Offensive and Turkey’s Attack in Armenian Air Space

McCaul (R-TX) 9/30: McCaul Statement on the Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh

Engel (D-NY) 9/29: Engel Statement on Eruption Of Fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh [incl Turkey]

Reed (D-RI) 9/28: Reed Statement on Clashes Between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Clark (D-MA) 9/28: Statement from Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5) on Azerbaijan’s Recent Military Action Against Armenians in Artsakh

Pallone (D-NJ) 9/27: Pallone Condemns Escalation of Azeri and Turkish Military Aggression in Artsakh


Members in general

Romney (R-UT) & Murphy (D-CT) 9/30: Statement on Reports of U.S. Withdrawal from Baghdad Embassy

Deutch (D-FL) 9/29: Announcing the Formation of an Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Anti-Semitism

Risch (R-ID) 9/29: Chairman Risch on Passing of Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah

Smith (R-NE) 9/24: Post on his website – “Strengthening our Ties with Israel


Articles and Reports Related to the Hill


Politico 10/2: Liebermans haunt Democrats in key Senate races

The Forward 10/1: Can Laura Loomer beat Lois Frankel, or just annoy her?

Jewish Insider 10/1: The scion of a New Jersey political dynasty looks to take on Washington [“In the state legislature in 2012, Kean sponsored legislation denying public contracts to contractors that do business in Iran, and also backed a measure that would prohibit state pension and annuity funds from being invested in companies that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Last year, Kean co-led the effort, with Demorcratic [sic] Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, to deny state investments in Airbnb after the company announced it would not list Israeli homes located in the West Bank. Re: Rep. Malinowski, “‘When he was in the Obama administration, he was a strong advocate for the Iran nuclear deal, and is still supportive. And when you look at issues related to Israel, he has not been where he needed to be,’ Kean charged.” and ‘“Any efforts to turn Israel into a partisan issue in my district are going to rebound against anybody who is seen as doing that,’ Malinowski declared.”]

San Diego Union-Tribune 10/1: 2020 election: Q&A with Rep. Juan Vargas, candidate for the 51st Congressional District

Yahoo News 9/29: How Ritchie Torres won a battle for the Bronx in the heat of the pandemic

Jewish Insider 9/29: Moe Davis is banking on a redrawn map to win a bitter North Carolina contest

City & State NY 9/27: Why Ronald Lauder is targeting state Senate Democrats [“The longtime GOP donor may want to protect Israel allies in the House through redistricting.”]

Piscataquis Observer 9/27: Where Maine’s U.S. Senate candidates stand on foreign policy in a inwardly focused race

Charleston Post & Courier 9/27: SC Senate policy stakes: Graham points to Iran, Harrison to Russia as biggest US threat


Other News

Huffington Post 10/2: Republicans Protect Saudi Arabia On Anniversary Of Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder

Middle East Monitor 10/1: Khashoggi murder: US lawmakers pledge to push for accountability

Jewish Insider 10/1: Beinart predicts a rightward shift on Israel among millennial Jews [“[Lara] Friedman focused on potentially significant shifts in the U.S. political environment, including Rep. Eliot Engel’s (D-NY) primary loss to Jamaal Bowman and the resultant race to replace Engel as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and other similar defeats of longtime House members to upstart progressive challengers. ‘Things are going to be changing in the next Congress,’ she said. ‘We’re going to see some of the old guard departing.’ Friedman noted that outside spending in Engel’s race and other primaries failed to prevent several incumbents from being unseated. ‘That sends a really powerful message to members of Congress,’ she said. ‘There is some hope that [in] the next House in particular, you will see more backbone.’ But Friedman said she does not expect much change from the status quo in a potential Joe Biden administration. ‘I think fundamentally it will be an effort to roll it back to the ‘highly successful’ — I say that with sarcasm — policy of the Obama administration,’ Friedman told the panel, adding: ‘Either Trump or Biden… I think it is going to be a more interesting situation next year where you potentially have more progressives willing to hold the line, particularly on constitutional matters.’”]

StarTribune 9/30: Trump is urged to intervene in trial of US-Saudi national [“The case of Salah al-Haidar, who has been detained since April 2019 in Saudi Arabia, has caught the attention of members of Congress who are urging President Donald Trump to personally seek his immediate and unconditional release.”]

Israel Hayom 9/30: Congress launches inter-parliamentary group to counter online anti-Semitism

Times of Israel 9/29: Congress launches inter-parliamentary task force to combat online anti-Semitism

Daily Beast 9/28: Trump’s ‘Peace Deal’ Fuels Orgy of Mideast Arms Sales Not Seen Since the Cold War

The National Interest 9/27: Stealth F-35s to UAE: Could Congress Actually Block It?

New York Times 9/27: Sudan Is Focus of U.S. Efforts to Improve Ties With Israel

Foreign Policy 9/25: The White House Wants Peace With Sudan. Congress Wants Khartoum to Pay.

The Hill 9/25: Trump’s push for win with Sudan amps up pressure on Congress

NPR 9/25: What Does It Take For A Palestinian American Baby To Travel From Israel To The U.S.? [“Lourice’s parents, who run a popular Ramallah café with a clientele of journalists and diplomats, had Sen. Kamala Harris’s office and other Congressional offices plead their case to Israeli authorities. Only after NPR’s correspondent and another reporter made inquiries did Israeli authorities grant Lourice permission to travel to the U.S.]