FMEP Legislative Round-Up: October 23, 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 plug:  On 10/20, FMEP held a webinar entitled, “A Founding Generation of Looters: New Research on Israeli Theft of Palestinian Property in 1948,” featuring Adam Raz (Akevot: Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research) and Yousef Munayyer (Arab Center Washington DC), in conversation with FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin. Video is here.

Also, with respect to news that the Trump Admin plans to designate leading human rights organizations as “antisemitic,” see my comments on the issue on Twitter:

Thread 1 (reminding people of Trump Admin officials’ prior hints/promises in this regard)
Thread 2 (offering background on the IHRA context for this decision)
Thread 3 (what comes next? Listen to Trump Admin officials!)
Thread 4 (targeting human rights orgs is a feature not a bug of IHRA)
Thread 5 (for folks who say otherwise — you are wrong, this is about the IHRA)
Thread 6 (some thoughts on the ADL & complicity)

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(CELEBRATING NORMALIZATION) S. Res. 709 & H. Res. 1110: This week, AIPAC is highlighting/lobbying House and Senate resolutions celebrating normalization between Israel and Gulf nations (see AIPAC’s Twitter account for examples). As a reminder, S. Res. 709 was introduced 9/17 by Graham (R-SC) and currently has 92 cosponsors (16 of whom signed on this week, in the context of the big AIPAC push); H. Res. 1110 was introduced 9/15 by Engel (D-NY) and currently has 364 cosponsors (13 of whom signed on this week, in the context of the big AIPAC push). As of this writing the resolutions are the 1st item listed on AIPAC’s legislative agenda. Also see: Senate resolution lauding Abraham Accords gains vast backing (Jewish Insider); and Harris, Cruz add to bipartisan support in Congress for Abraham Accords (JNS). Also note Cruz (R-TX) 10/22 statement: “Sen. Cruz Issues Statement on S. Res 709 – Co-Sponsors the Resolution, But Expresses Strong Disagreement with the United States Refocusing on Palestinian State, Trying To Mandate a ‘Two-State’ Solution to the Palestinian Conflict.”

(DEFENDING ISRAEL’S QME) S. 4814 (pdf): Introduced 10/20 by Menendez (D-NJ) and Feinstein (D-CA), “A bill to ensure that sales, exports, or transfers of F-35 aircraft do not compromise the qualitative military edge of the United States or Israel, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Secure F-35 Exports Act of 2020.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Press release is here. Also see: Democratic senators introduce bill to constrain F-35 sales to UAE (The Hill); Menendez, Feinstein push back against F-35 sale to UAE (Jewish Insider)

(NO MIDEAST ARMS RACE/NO KSA NUKES) S. XXX: On 10/22, Senators Markey and Merkley issued a press release announcing the introduction of legislation “to Guard Against Middle-East Arms Race, Stop Saudi Arabia From Acquiring Nuclear Weapons,” aka, the “SAUDI WMD Act.”  As of this writing, the bill is not showing up in the Congressional Record, but the text is here, and a one-page summary is here.

(JOINING FORCES TO ADDRESS PTSD) S. XXX): According to a press release issued by Moran (R-KS), on 10/22 Moran, Menendez (D-NJ), Ernst (R-IA) and Cardin (D-MD) “introduced the bipartisan United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act to establish a grant program for research efforts between the U.S. and Israel to advance post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments.” The press release notes that this is the Senate companion to HR 5605. As of this writing, the bill is not showing up in the Congressional Record.

(NEVER FORGET BEIRUT USMC BARRACKS BOMBING) HR 1197 (pdf): Introduced 10/16 by Pence (R-IN) and 3 bipartisan cosponsors, “Expressing support for the designation of October 23, 2020, as a national day of remembrance of the tragic 1983 terrorist bombing of the United States Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.” Referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Press release is here.

(NEVER FORGET BEIRUT USMC BARRACKS BOMBING) S. Res. 751: Introduced 10/22 by Cotton (R-AR) and 12 bipartisan cosponsors, “A resolution expressing support for the designation of October 23, 2020, as a national day of remembrance of the tragic terrorist bombing of the United States Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983.” Referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

(NEED INFO ON TURKEY & AZERBAIJAN HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES) S. Res. 755 (pdf) and S. Res. 754 (pdf): Introduced 10/22 by Menendez (D-NJ) and 6 Democratic cosponsors, “A resolution requesting information on the Government of Turkey’s human rights practices pursuant to section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961” and “A resolution requesting information on the Government of Azerbaijan’s human rights practices pursuant to section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Press release (covering both resolutions) is here.

(CONDEMNING TURKEY) H. Res. 1195: Introduced 10/16 by Gabbard (D-HI), “Condemning Turkey’s attacks on United States forces and allies and Turkey’s continued support for terrorist organizations.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN) H. Res. XXX: On 10/22, Rep. Pallone (D-NJ) issued a press release announcing that he and a bipartisan group of 33 House colleagues “will introduce a resolution supporting the Republic of Artsakh, recognizing its right to self-determination, and condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey for aggression.” As of this writing, the bill is not showing up in the Congressional Record, but a pdf of the text is here.

(ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN) H. Res. 1196: Introduced 10/16 by Keating (D-MA), “Calling for an end to escalating violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, for each side to return to the peace process, and for external parties to cease their support for and interference in the conflict.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(DEFENDING JOURNOS) HR 8641(pdf): Introduced 10/20 by Schiff (D-CA) and 16 cosponsors (all Democrats), “To protect journalists and other members of the press from gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on the Judiciary. Press release is here.

(BAD TURKEY!) S. Res. 409: Introduced 11/6 by Menendez (D-NJ) and 3 Democratic cosponsors, “A resolution requesting information on Turkey’s human rights practices in Syria pursuant to section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. UPDATE: On 10/22, Schumer introduced a motion to proceed to Legislative Session to consider to S. Res. 409, which was defeated by a vote of 45-51.


(REQUEST BRIEFING ON IRAN/RUSSIA ELECTIONS INTERFERENCE) Young letter: On 10/22, Sen. Young (R-IN) sent a letter to DNI John Ratcliffe stating “your announcement that both Russia and Iran have been able to successfully access voter databases and have used that data to deliver false information to voters should alarm all Americans” and closing with: “These are serious matters and therefore a classified briefing with all members of the United States Senate without delay is appropriate. Upon receipt of this message, kindly affirm that this is your intention.“ Press release is here.

(REQUEST BRIEFING ON IRAN/RUSSIA ELECTIONS INTERFERENCE) Waltz-Murphy letter: On 10/22, Reps. Waltz (R-FL) and Murphy (D-FL) sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, DNI John Ratcliffe, and AG Bill Barr requesting an official briefing on Russian and Iranian interference in the 2020 election. The letter notes, “This request is a response to the announcement made yesterday by your offices, in which you indicated that Iran and Russia have sought and obtained American voter registration data.  It is also a response to public reporting that Iran has sent threatening, faked emails to Florida voters in Alachua County, Brevard County, and Flagler County.  We understand the U.S. intelligence community believes foreign adversaries will take additional steps in the coming days to interfere in the election.“ Press release is here.

(HOLD KSA ACCOUNTABLE OR WITHDRAW FROM G-20) Shakowsky-Omar letter to Pompeo: On 10/21, Reps. Schakowsky (D-IL) and Omar (D-MN) led a letter, signed by 43 House colleagues (all Democrats), to SecState Pompeo expressing “concern that Saudi Arabia’s government is an unfit and inappropriate host for the 2020 G20 summit.” The letter goes on to urge the Department of State “to publicly demand that the Saudi government take clear and immediate steps towards ending its record of human rights violations, reckless foreign policy, and environmental destruction. These steps should include releasing prisoners of conscience, true accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and ending its war in Yemen.” Should the Saudi government fail to take these steps, the letter urges the US government “not to participate in Saudi Arabia’s G20 proceedings this year.” Schakowsky press release is here; Freedom Forward press release is here.

(NDAA CONFEREES: SUPPORT GIANT AID/COOP PACKAGE FOR ISRAEL) Gillibrand/Cruz et al letter to NDAA conferees: On 10/21, Senators Gillibrand (D-NJ) and Cruz (R-TX), along with 13 Senate colleagues (bipartisan) sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, requesting inclusion in the FY21 NDAA of provisions maintaining and expanding cooperation between the United States and Israel, including: the US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act (which codifies the MOU plus massively expands US-Israel cooperation – see details here); language facilitating cooperative research and manufacturing to combat COVID-19; and a section providing for the establishment of a US-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group. Press releases: Cruz, Gillibrand.

(BULGARIA – DESIGNATE HEZBOLLAH A TERROR ORG) Cotton-Rosen letter: On 10/21, Sens. Cotton (R-AR) and Rosen (D-NV) sent a letter to Bulgarian Ambassador to the US, thanking Bulgaria for recently sentencing Hezbollah operatives (in absentia) for the 2012 bombing of a bus of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria, and encouraging Bulgaria to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist entity in its entirety. Press releases: Cotton, Rosen.

(LET EGYPTIAN PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE GO!) Bicameral Dem Letter to President Al-Sisi: On 10/19, Reps. Khanna (D-CA) and McGovern (D-MA), and Sen. Brown (D-OH) led a letter, signed by more than 50 Democratic colleagues, urging Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. As noted in the press release, they called on Al-Sisi “to release human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and other prisoners of conscience before their unjust imprisonments become death sentences in the face of massive COVID outbreaks in Egyptian prisons. Amid mounting protests in Egypt, the group of bicameral lawmakers warn President Sisi that ‘the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience and other violations of human rights fundamentally undermines our countries’ mutual interests and values.’ The U.S. lawmakers also note that ‘hostage-taking is illegal and unacceptable under any circumstances.’” Sen. Brown’s press release is here. Also see: U.S. lawmakers urge Egypt’s Sissi to release prisoners (Washington Post)

(HOLD TURKEY ACCOUNTABLE FOR DEMOCRATIC BACKSLIDING) Engel-McCaul letter to Pompeo: On 10/15 Reps. Engel (D-NY) and McCaul (R-TX) sent a letter to SecState Pompeo urging him expressing “deep concern about the conduct of the Government of the Republic of Turkey over the course of the last several years and the Administration’s consistent failure to hold President Erdogan sufficiently accountable for such conduct.” The letter calls on the Administration to “take the necessary steps to hold President Erdogan accountable – including by enforcing laws requiring sanctions.” Press release is here.

(CONCERNS ABOUT F-35 SALE TO UAE) Mendenez-Reed letter to Pompeo & Esper: On 10/9, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Menendez (D-NJ) and Senate Armed Services Ranking Member Reed (D-RI), sent a letter to SecState Pompeo and SecDef Esper asking them to explain in detail — with a list of questions — how it will deal with specific national security risks inherent in the Administration’s proposed sale of the F-35 aircraft to the United Arab Emirates. The letter notes, “There are numerous questions as to how the national security interests of both the U.S. and Israel will be served, or undermined, by such a sale.  We fear that the Trump Administration’s recklessly accelerated timeline will preclude sufficient and comprehensive consideration of these issues by the national security professionals in the Departments of State and Defense, as well as by the Congress.Press release is here.

(NDAA CONFEREES: SUPPORT ISRAEL-US PTSD RESEARCH) Luria-Waltz letter to NDAA Conferees: On 10/6, Reps. Luria (D-VA) and Walz (R-FL) sent a letter to conferees working on the FY21 NDAA,  requesting the inclusion of their bipartisan measure to research and treat PTSD for veterans (HR 5605). Language adapted from that bill was included in the House version of the NDAA (HR 6395). In addition to Luria and Waltz, the letter was signed by Zeldin (R-NY), Houlahan (D-PA), Crenshaw (R-TX) and Wild (D-PA. Luria press release is here. Note: this bill is currently listed as part of AIPAC’s Legislative Agenda.


2. Hearings & Markups


3. On the Record

Members in general

Deutch (D-FL) 10/23: Deutch condemns Trump administration plans to label human rights NGOs as antisemitic

Levin (D-MI) 10/22: Tweet – “Orgs like @hrw @amnesty @Oxfam do essential, often dangerous work to protect human rights. I know because I worked for one of them. Criticizing Israel’s policies ≠ anti-Semitism. I know because I do so out of love for a country I want to thrive. @StateDept, do not do this.”

Schumer (D-NY) 10/22: Schumer Floor Remarks On The Republican Majority Ignoring The Horrific Consequences Of President Trump’s Abandonment Of Our Kurdish Allies

Ernst (R-IA) 10/22: Tweet – “Too many veterans continue to suffer from PTSD, and we need to be learning from the best researchers around the world. That’s why I’m supporting a bipartisan bill that will help U.S. servicemembers access Israel’s cutting edge PTSD treatment, therapy, and ongoing research.”

Menendez (D-NJ) 10/21: “The Cost of Trump’s Foreign Policy: Damage and Consequences for U.S. and Global Security” [watch video of interview with Politico’s Nahal Toosi here]

Zeldin (R-NY) 10/21: Lee Zeldin contrasts Trump’s record on Israel with Obama’s in reelection pitch

Foxx (R-NC) 10/20: Foxx Reacts to Report on Foreign Influence on U.S. Higher Education [“For too long, adversarial foreign actors, including China, have utilized whatever means at their disposal to influence American higher education with little to no repercussions. Since 2012, institutions reported anonymous donations from China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia totaling more than $1 billion. This is unacceptable.”

Crapo (R-ID) 10/19: Weekly Column: The Abraham Accords Peace Agreement–A Historic Achievement

Engel (D-NY) and McCaul (R-TX) 10/16: Engel, McCaul Statement on Turkey Testing Russian S-400

Menendez (D-NJ) 10/16: Menendez Statement on Turkey’s Reported Test of S-400 Air Defense System

Inhofe (R-OK) 10/16: Armed Services Committee Chairman Inhofe Condemns Turkey’s Test of Russian-made S-400 Missile Defense System

Van Hollen (D-MD) & Lankford (R-OK) 10/16: Van Hollen, Lankford Release Statement on New Reports of Turkey Testing the S-400 Anti-Aircraft System

Risch (R-ID) 10/16: Chairman Risch: Turkey’s Test of S-400 System is Unacceptable

Republican Policy Committee 10/16: Policy Paper – Applying Pressure On Iran

Bacon (R-NW) 10/14: Bacon is Leading the Fight Against Anti-Semitism

Fitzpatrick (R-PA) 10/11: Israel’s unease over F-35 sales to UAE tests new relations

Fitzpatrick (R-PA) 10/9: Ongoing U.S. commitment to Israel’s military edge preserved in Fitzpatrick, Katko bill


Members on Reported Iran/Russia Elections Interference

Thune (R-SD) 10/22: Tweet – “Our Intelligence Community has again caught Russia – and now Iran – seeking to interfere with our election, spread misinformation, & sow doubt in the integrity of your votes. These “desperate attempts by desperate adversaries” will not succeed.

Rubio (R-FL) & Warner (D-VA) 10/22: Rubio, Warner Issue Joint Statement Following DNI, FBI Announcement Regarding Threats to Election Systems and Infrastructure

Hoyer (D-MD) 10/22: Hoyer Statement on Russia and Iran Interfering in the Upcoming Election

McConnell (R-KY) 10/22: McConnell on Election Security: “We Have Spent the Last Four Years Gearing Up For This”

Kinzinger (R-IL) 10/22: Tweet – “The United States cannot continue to sustain these attacks on our democracy and then not counter. Russia and Iran will not stop exploiting our cyber vulnerabilities unless we make them stop.”

Brown (D-OH) 10/22: Brown Statement on Russian and Iranian Interference In U.S. Elections

Crow (D-CO) 10/22: Crow Statement on Russia, Iran Obtaining Voter Data

Pelosi (D-CA) & Schiff (D-CA) 10/21: Pelosi, Schiff Statement on Russia, Iran Obtaining Voter Data

Murphy (D-CT) 10/21: Murphy Statement On Trump Administration’s Conclusions Of Iranian Election Interference

Lofgren (D-CA) 10/21: Lofgren Statement on Russia and Iran Accessing Voter Registration Information

Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) 10/21: Mucarsel-Powell Responds To FBI Press Conference Outlining Foreign Interference In 2020 Florida Elections


Members on Reported Armenia-Azerbaijan

Schiff (D-NY) et al 10/21: Reps. Schiff, Pallone, Bilirakis, Speier and Titus Announce Library of Congress Will Recognize the Armenian Genocide

Markey (D-MA) 10/20: Senator Markey Statement on Need for Resolution to Conflict over Nagorno Karabakh

Houlahan (D-PA) 10/20: Houlahan Issues Statement On Violence In Nagorno-Karabakh

Napolitano (D-CA) 10/20: Floor statement – “Independence for Artsakh”

Lofgren (D-CA) 10/19: Lofgren Statement on Continuing Azerbaijani Attacks on Armenian People

Sarbanes (D-MD) 10/16: Sarbanes Statement on Renewed Azerbaijani Military Aggression in Nagorno-Karabakh

Costa (D-CA) 10/14: Costa Calls for End to Violence in Artsakh

Harris (D-CA) 10/13: Harris Statement on Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Eshoo (D-CA) 10/9: Eshoo Statement on Shelling of Historic Christian Church in Artsakh

Articles and Reports Related to the Hill


Jewish Insider 10/23:     Jeff Van Drew will soon find out if he is on the right side

JTA 10/22: 4 Jews are running for Senate in 2020 — including 2 who could help turn it blue. Here’s what you need to know about them. [includes Israel-related details]

The Forward 10/22: The Republican Jewish Coalition has funneled more money to Lindsey Graham than any other group

Jewish Insider 10/22:     In Las Vegas’s suburbs, Rep. Susie Lee fights a wrestler for reelection

CT Jewish Ledger 10/20: Matt Lieberman grabs the family baton as he makes run for Senate in Georgia

Times of Israel 10/20: Alaska candidate, Jewish doctor who killed a bear, hopes to ride Democratic wave

JTA 10/19: Jewish Republican congressional candidate calls George Soros a ‘Nazi sympathizer’

Haaretz 10/19: As Netanyahu Ally Lindsey Graham Fights for Political Life, South Carolina Jews Are Torn

Science 10/19: In Wyoming, an ecologist seeks a new niche as a U.S. senator (Merav Ben-David)

Jerusalem Post 10/17: In Pennsylvania, two Jewish female candidates are running for 7th district

JTA 10/16: Al Gross, Jewish Dr. who killed a bear, raised $9M in Alaska’s Senate race

American Spectator (Middle East Forum) 10/16: Meet Iman Jodeh: Islamist Candidate for Colorado’s House of Representatives

Jewish Insider 10/15:     In debate, Max Rose highlights his support of Trump’s executive order on antisemitism

Haaretz 10/14: The Jewish Doctor, a Dead Bear and the Surprisingly Competitive Alaska Senate Race

Algemeiner 10/14: Georgia Democratic Senate Candidate Defends Antisemitic Pastor Jeremiah Wright

Jewish Insider 10/13: RJC drops $800K to boost Lee Zeldin as race tightens

Also see: Jewish Insider candidate questionnaires from [asking candidates about views on antisemitism (right v. left problem?), the two-state solution, the JCPOA, and aid to Israel; includes some defeated in primaries]: Merav Ben-David (9/1/20), Carolyn Bordeaux (8/9/20), Steve Bullock (9/15/20), Ammar Campa-Najjar (9/1/20), Madison Cawthorn (9/22/20), Doug Collins (8/5/20), Cal Cunningham (10/21/20), Al Gross (9/24/20), Jaime Harrison (8/18/20), Paul Junge (9/8/20), Ihsanne Leckey (8/17/20), Kelly Loeffler (8/5/20), Ben Ray Lujan (8/19/20), Rich McCormick (8/9/20), Alex Morse (8/9/20), Jon Ossoff (8/23/20), David Perdue (8/23/20), Thom Tillis (10/22/20)

Other News

Jerusalem Post 10/19: Sen. Menendez: Resolve 9/11 claims or Sudan bill can’t pass

Jerusalem Post 10/16: Bill introduced to Congress aims to stop Hezbollah money laundering [referring to HR 8445, introduced 9/30)

Jewish Insider 10/15: Brad Schneider: Resolution will ‘remind’ lawmakers of QME guarantee to Israel

i24 News 10/13: US Congressman to i24NEWS: Israel will maintain qualitative military edge over MidEast neighbors [re-upped 10/15 in the Algemeiner]