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APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending October 2, 2009

1.  New Bills and Resolutions
2.  Playing Partisan Politics with Iran in the House of Representatives
3.  Non-Exhaustive List of Iran Sanctions Bills that Died in Previous Congresses
4.  Dodd Lays Out Plans for Omnibus Iran Sanctions Bill
5.  House Colloquy on Israel (and why settlements are not the issue) and Iran (and why it is just like Nazi Germany) 

1.  NEW BILLS AND RESOLUTIONS
 
(IRAN)  H. Res. 782: Introduced 9/29/09 by Rep. Johnson (D-GA) and 33 cosponsors, "Demanding that the Government of Iran immediately disclose the existence of any additional nuclear-related facilities and provide unfettered access to its Qom enrichment facility."  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
 
(IRAN) S. XXX:  An omnibus Iran sanctions bill to be introduced at some point by Sen. Dodd (D-CT).  See section 4, below, for details.
 
(OHIO-ISRAEL AGRICULTURAL COOPERATION) HR 2997:  Introduced 6/23/09 by Rep. De-Lauro (D-CT), "Making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes."  House-Senate conference report filed 9/30/09.  The conference report lists "congressionally designated" programs for funding, including $700,000 to extend the Ohio-Israel Agriculture Initiative, under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
 
(IRAN - ACCESS TO REFINED PETROLEUM, ISRAEL - RENEWABLE ENERGY) HR 3138: Introduced 7/13/09 by Rep. Pater (D-AZ), "Making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes." On 10/1/09 the House adopted the House-Senate conference report by a vote of 308-114. 
 
The Conference report includes a provision inserted originally in the Senate version of the bill (Sec. 312 in the Senate version, Sec. 313 in the Conference version) that echoes the currently pending Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act.  This section stats that "none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this title for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve may be made available to any person that as of the enactment of this Act-- (1) is selling refined petroleum products valued at $1,000,000 or more to the Islamic Republic of Iran; (2) is engaged in an activity valued at $1,000,000 or more that could contribute to enhancing the ability of the Islamic Republic of Iran to import refined petroleum products, including-- (A) providing ships or shipping services to deliver refined petroleum products to the Islamic Republic of Iran; (B) underwriting or otherwise providing insurance or reinsurance for such an activity; or (C) financing or brokering such an activity; or   (3) is selling, leasing, or otherwise providing to the Islamic Republic of Iran any goods, services, or technology valued at $1,000,000 or more that could contribute to the maintenance or expansion of the capacity of the Islamic Republic of Iran to produce refined petroleum products."  This prohibition does not apply to contracts already entered into before the bill becomes law.
 
In addition, the explanatory language accompany the report stipulates that the conference agreement provides $45,000,000 for Program Support for "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy."  Of this, it states that "the Department is directed to provide $10,000,000 for the International Renewable Energy Program, to include $2,000,000 for the U.S.-Israeli energy cooperation agreement."
 
(DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS/IRAN-RELATED AMENDMENTS) HR 3326:  Introduced 7/24/09 by Rep. Murtha (D-PA), "Making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes."  This week the bill was considered on the Senate floor.   Two Iran-related amendments were offered to the bill:
 
SA 2616 (proposed 10/1/09 on the floor, not voted on as of this writing), proposed by Sens. Lieberman -  I-CT, Bayh - D-IN, McCain - R-AZ, Inhofe - R-OK, Vitter - R-LA, Kyl - R-AZ, Sessions - R-AL, and Bennett - R-UT), to earmark $151 million "for research, development, test, and evaluation of the two-state ground-based interceptor missile."  The amendment also requires that not later than 2/1/10 the Director of the Missile Defense Agency submit a report setting forth (among other things) "Options for deploying an additional Ground-based Midcourse Defense site in Europe or the United States to provide enhanced defense in response to future long-range missile threats from Iran, and a description of how such a site may be made interoperable with the planned missile defense architecture for Europe and the United States."
 
SA 2609: (submitted 10/1/09 by Sens. Sessions, Lieberman, and Bennett, but no action taken thus far).  The amendment would require the Comptroller General of the United States to submit to Congress a report "setting forth the assessment of the Comptroller General of the so-called ``Phased Adaptive'' approach to missile defense in Europe."  The report would have to include " A comparison of the capabilities, schedule, cost, technology risk, requirements for basing agreements, and geopolitical implications of the ``Phased Adaptive'' approach to missile defense in Europe, as proposed by the Department of Defense on September 17, 2009, with the approach to missile defense in Europe, as outlined in the budget for fiscal year 2009 for the Department of Defense and the future-years defense program, to provide short, medium, intermediate and long-range missile defense capabilities for the protection of the United States its deployed forces, and allies against the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles" and "A review of the intelligence data used to inform each of the approaches."
 
2.  PLAYING PARTISAN POLITICS WITH IRAN IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 
On 9/25/09 House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) jumped on the news of Iran's secret nuclear facility to attack the Obama Administration's plans to open an historic new effort to engage Iran diplomatically. 
 
Cantor followed up on this attack on Oct 1 - the day that the talks took place - to press House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to commit to precisely when House leadership would move the Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act (HR 2194).  In response, Hoyer made clear that the timing of such a move will depend on how things are going on the diplomatic track.  Rep. Cantor pressed the issue, implying that Democrats were not doing enough to move the bill, and making clear that Republicans were ready to support it immediately.  Their exchange is included, in full, below.
 
It is interesting to note that under the Bush Administration (regardless of which party was controlling Congress), a lot of major Iran sanctions legislation failed to pass into law.  The bills were often held up by Congressional leaders, apparently in deference to the White House.  During this era there was little if any effort to use the non-movement of these bills as a source of partisan point scoring (by either party).  A non-exhaustive list of such bills is included in Section 4, below.
 
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CANTOR:  Mr. Speaker, as to the scheduling of a bill dealing with sanctions on Iran, we've had discussions together on the floor and elsewhere regarding the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act. And Mr. Speaker, I'd say to the gentleman, now, in particular, I think time is of the essence that we act because, as we have seen over the last 10 days, Iran revealing its secret enrichment program, indicating, yet again, that the regime in that country refuses to comply with international law or the will of the world community.  So it is my sense that we should, and we can work together on this issue. The gentleman had indicated last time we were engaged in a colloquy that he was going to meet with Chairman Berman of the Foreign Affairs Committee about moving that bill and bringing it to the floor. So I would ask the gentleman if he could tell us when we could expect that bill to come to the floor.
 
HOYER:  Since I made that representation, I have, in fact, met with both not only Mr. Berman, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, but also Mr. Frank, the chairman of the Financial Services Committee. As the gentleman knows, there are two sanctions bills. One is Chairman Frank's bill, which passed the House overwhelmingly last year, and provides authority to State and local governments to divest their assets from any company that invests $20 million or more in Iran's energy sector. That is not as consequential, obviously, as Mr. Berman's bill. Mr. Berman's bill, as you know, requires any foreign entities that sell refined petroleum to Iran or otherwise assist such sales to be banned from doing business in the United States. Obviously, that has real teeth to it.
 
As the gentleman also knows, October 1, discussions are underway with Iran for the first time in a long time. Furthermore, significantly, the administration is working with our allies, certainly with, as the gentleman knows, with Britain and France, but also engaged with Germany as well, and with Russia and with China, members of the P-5 plus 1, essentially, members of the Security Council plus Germany, on how we might respond to what the world has viewed as a violation of the U.N. resolutions and what Iran has been doing. The gentleman and I share a view that Iran's process is unacceptable, that Iran's pursuing of nuclear armed capability, weapons capability is unacceptable and dangerous to the region and to the international community.
 
The administration shares that view, and therefore, with respect to Mr. Berman's resolution, we are in contact with the administration, and Mr. Berman is prepared to bring that forward at a time when, based upon whatever may occur in the next week--I don't want to put a time frame on it--a week or two, that might indicate that we could get a broader international toughening of sanctions that now exist, with the agreement, particularly of Russia. As you know, President Medvedev has made some pretty strong statements about Qom and the findings there, and what he believes to be Iran's failure to keep the world informed and concern about what Iran is doing, which was a positive sign.  But with those considerations in mind, I know that Mr. Berman is very focused on this and ready to bring a resolution to the floor at a time he believes is consistent with the administration's trying to attain, with the international community, the strongest possible sanctions internationally, as well as our own sanctions.
 
CANTOR:  I thank the gentleman. And I would only add that I believe I'm speaking for our conference here in indicating that it's not necessarily what we would do in terms of trying to wait for China and Russia to move the bill. I'm not saying the gentleman said that, but it sounded as if we've got to wait until there is some collective agreement on the world stage in order for Congress to act. As the gentleman and I have agreed for a long time now, we, in this country, believe very strongly of standing up against the regime in Iran.  It has an impact on our allies across that region in the world and particularly for us here at home. So I would encourage the gentleman by telling him that our side stands ready to want to help with moving that bill.  

3.  NON-EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF IRAN SANCTIONS BILLS THAT DIED IN PREVIOUS CONGRESSES
 
H.R.7112: Introduced 9/26/2008 by Rep. Berman (D-CA), "the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2008."  Died in the Senate.
 
S.3445: Introduced 8/1/08 by Sen. Dodd (D-CT), 'Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2008."  Died in the Senate.
 
H.R.6827: Introduced 8/1/08 by Sen. Sherman (D-CA), "To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for rollover of gain from divesting certain qualified securities of business entities engaged in Iran or Sudan discouraged activities."  Died in House Committee.
 
S.3227: Introduced 7/7/08 by Sen. Baucus (D-MT), "Iran Sanctions Act of 2008."  Died in the Senate.
 
H.R.6178: Introduced 6/4/08 by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), "To strengthen existing legislation sanctioning persons aiding and facilitating nonproliferation activities by the governments of Iran, North Korea, and Syria, and for other purposes."  Died in House committee.
 
HR 3390:  Introduced 8/3/07 by Rep. Issa (R-CA), "To impose sanctions on Iran and on other countries for assisting Iran in developing a nuclear program, and for other purposes." Died in House committee.
 
HR 2880: Introduced 6/27/07 by Rep, Kirk (R-IL), "To amend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to enhance United States diplomatic efforts with respect to Iran by expanding economic sanctions against Iran to include the importation of refined petroleum."  Died in House committee.
 
S. 1430: Introduced 5/17/07 by Sen. Obama (D-IL), "A bill to authorize State and local governments to direct divestiture from, and prevent investment in, companies with investments of $20,000,000 or more in Iran's energy sector, and for other purposes."  Died in Senate committee.
 
HR 2347: Introduced 5/16/07 by Rep. Frank (D-MA), "A bill to authorize State and local governments to direct divestiture from, and prevent investment in, companies with investments of $20,000,000 or more in Iran's energy sector, companies that sell arms to the Government of Iran, and financial institutions that extend $20,000,000 or more in credit to the Government of Iran for 45 days or more, and for other purposes."  Died in the Senate.
 
S. 970:  Introduced 3/22/07 by Sen. Smith (R-OR) (and accumulating 72 cosponsors), "A bill to impose sanctions on Iran and on other countries for assisting Iran in developing a nuclear program, and for other purposes."  Died in Senate committee.
 
HR 1400:  Introduced 3/8/07 by Rep. Lantos (and accumulating 325 cosponsors), "To enhance United States diplomatic efforts with respect to Iran by imposing additional economic sanctions against Iran, and for other purposes."  Died in the Senate.
 
HR 957:  Introduced 2/8/07 by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), "To amend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to expand and clarify the entities against which sanctions may be imposed."  Died in the Senate.
 
S. 2657: Introduced 4/26/06 by Sen. Santorum (R-PA), "The Iran Sanctions Extension Act of 2006."  Died in Senate committee.
 
S. 2279:  Introduced 2/14/06 by Sen. Feingold (D-WI), "A bill to make amendments to the Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act."  Died in Senate committee.
 
S. 1976:  Introduced 11/8/05 by Sen. Feingold (D-WI), "A bill to make amendments to the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000."  Died in Senate committee.
 
S. 1737:  Introduced 9/20/05 by Sen. Santorum (R-PA), "A bill to prohibit entities that provide nuclear fuel assemblies to Iran from providing such assemblies to the United States, and for other purposes."  Died in Senate committee.
 
S. 299:  Introduced 2/7/05 by Sen. Wyden (D-OR), "A bill to make information regarding certain investments in the energy sector in Iran available to the public, and for other purposes."  Died in Senate committee.

4.  DODD LAYS OUT PLANS FOR OMNIBUS IRAN SANCTIONS BILL

 
In what some Iran policy wonks are labeling an "everything, including the kitchen sink" approach, on 9/29/09 Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) announced on the Senate floor his plans to introduce in the coming weeks a new Iran sanctions bill that will include pretty much every sanction that has ever been contemplated by Congress.  He also announced that the Banking Committee will hold a hearing on the subject on Oct. 6.  A description of the legislation he intends to introduce and a webcast of Dodd's floor statement can be found in a press release on his website.  The press release states that the bill would:
 
- expand the Iran Sanctions Act to cover a range of financial institutions and businesses and extend sanctions to oil and gas pipelines and tankers;
- impose new sanctions on entities involved in exporting certain refined petroleum products to Iran or building Iran's domestic refining capacity;
- impose a broad ban on direct imports from Iran to the US and exports from the US to Iran, exempting food and medicines;
- strengthen the Administration's ability to freeze the assets of Iranians active in weapons proliferation or terrorism;
- require the President to determine and report to Congress if investments in Iran's energy sector are eligible for sanctions;
- enable Americans to divest from energy firms doing business with the Iranian regime; and
- strengthen export controls to stop the illegal export of sensitive technology to countries like Iran, and impose tough new licensing requirements on those who refuse to cooperate.
 
5.  HOUSE COLLOQUY ON ISRAEL (AND WHY SETTLEMENTS ARE NOT THE ISSUE) AND IRAN (AND WHY IT IS JUST LIKE NAZI GERMANY)
 
On 9/29/09 Reps. Schock (R-IL) led a colloquy on Israel, joined by Reps. Thompson (R-PA) and Fleming (R-LA).  In the course of the colloquy, Schick asserted (among other things) that President Obama had attributed the creation of Israel to the Holocaust (check out the JTA's Ron Kampeas for a decisive take-down of this anti-Obama urban legend).  He also articulated the view that settlements need to keep growing.  Thompson articulated the view (like Rep. Gohmert last week) that asking Israel to give up any of the West Bank is like asking the US to give up New Mexico... 
 
Excerpts:
 
> Schock on President Obama and the Holocaust/Israel myth:  "...And while I found our agenda to be filled with the study of distorted lines, there were always those stark borders which clearly separated Israel from her neighbors and delineated fact from fiction.  I found this truth as we toured the Western Wall. As I watched old rabbis press their heads against the blocks of Herod's Temple, I found no ambiguous lines. I was clearly standing at the foundation of modern Israel.
 
"Conversely, I did not hear Israel's genesis in the echo of my footsteps through the solemn corridors of Yad Vashem. True, I heard an irrefutable argument against the unforgettable atrocities that happened when the world's Jewry does not have a land to call its own. While important, Yad Vashem's lesson does not speak to Israel's birthright. Plainly, Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust.  Unfortunately, I believe President Obama crossed this unmistakable border in his Cairo speech, linking the history of Israel not to the Western Wall or Masada but to the actions of a mad man. President Obama implied that Israel was thrown together to ease the guilt of a post-World War II Europe. I find this absurd. One can easily trace the tenacity of Masada straight through    2,000 years of history to the weary resolution on the faces of David Rubinger's famous photo ``Paratroopers at the Western Wall.  Israel does not date to the instability caused by Adolf Hitler, but to the stability engendered by Abraham. Additionally, the President spoke of mutual respect but failed to show the Israelis the same respect he displayed to Palestinians. He spoke of the daily humiliations endured by Palestinians, but did not mention the daily fears endured by the residents of Sderot as they go about their lives tethered to bomb shelters."
 
>Schock on why settlements need to grow:  "The President also crossed the border between fact and fiction when he put settlement construction on a pedestal as the principal bargaining chip for peace, thereby providing cover for Palestinian leaders to harden their opposition to all construction in the settlements. This misstep was completely unnecessary. It is well known that Israel has no intention of building new settlements. However, the nation also has no intention of stopping normal life in the settlements; and, unfortunately, the President inadvertently called for the latter.   Admittedly, this is a difficult topic for us to understand, and it was only on my trip that I realized the line between Israeli parents and grown children is much more blurred than it is here in the United States. I love my mother dearly, yet I do not wish to have her live right next door to me. However, many Israelis want exactly that. They want to walk to their father's house for Shabbat and employ their mother as a readily available and reliable baby sitter.
 
"Settlements need what is referred to as natural growth, but this term is a misnomer. The settlements have no intention of growing the geographic size of their settlements. Instead, they want a natural filling in of the existing land. They want their son to be able to build a house on the vacant lot next to their home. To deprive settlers of this ability is to deprive them of living the Israeli lifestyle. I wish President Obama had toured the Alfei Menashe settlement with us so he could have learned this lesson himself. The President also needs to learn that the world cannot preach from on high to Israel.  [Note: Rep. Schock's understanding of settlements in general, and Alfei Menashe in particular, is at odds with the facts. To compare the two, check out Peace Now/Shalom Achshav's entry for Alfei Menashe in its settlements database, which includes a map showing the built-up area of the settlement as well as the huge land reserves that have been taken from the surrounding territory in order to permit the further expansion of the settlement's geographic size on the ground].
 
>Schock on Obama's Middle East peace policy:  "When the President tours U.S. cities, he does not encounter bus stops that double as bomb shelters. When he sees groups of crowded students around the White House, he does not see assault rifles slung over the chaperone's shoulders. He does not live in fear. And due to these facts, the President does not have the capability to lecture Israel on what she must do to keep peace or to make her citizens safe."
 
>Schock comparing Iran to Nazi Germany:  "When I think about the threat of Iran, I am reminded of the saying that those who do not study history are destined to repeat it. I'm reminded of my tour of Yad Vashem. I recall an eerily similar declaration to annihilate Jews. I remember a leader who perverted a religion to justify his actions. And I am reminded of the famous British Parliamentarian Edmund Burke, who once said, 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,' which is exactly what too many Christian leaders did in that day: nothing.   This eerie similarity exists today, not with a leader who quotes the Bible but with one who quotes the Koran. His comments echo those of Hitler's; his stated goal is the same.
 
>Schock on what is needed for peace (and it is not a settlement freeze):  "...I would contend that there will be no peace until leaders around the world regardless of faiths denounce such comments, until leaders within the Muslim community reject this rhetoric, and until leaders of the Islamic states shun such hate speak within their borders. Whether someone builds a second garage or a second home within a defined community is not what stands between war and peace. A community of citizens who pervert a religion to justify hate and murder are what stand in the way of peace. This is precisely what we should all fear. It was radical Islamic terrorists who attacked the United States on September the 11th, who blew up subways in the UK. This ideology is the true barrier to peace... Settlements, the West Bank, and a President who seems more interested in giving dictation rather than providing assistance--when spoken aloud, these problems seem rather insurmountable. I believe they are not. There is a path to peace which is as clear as the border formed by the security barrier. We only need to have the courage to take the first step on this path by ensuring Israel has our undeniable support."
 
>Fleming comparing Iran to Nazi Germany: "...it's often said that what we don't learn from history is destined to repeat itself. And what we have today is a Hitler-like figure, Mr. Speaker, of course, Ahmadinejad, who is saying many of the same things that Adolf Hitler said in those days, giving the same threats.   Very few people took Hitler seriously when he said that he intended to kill the Jews, and that is what he did. Now we have Ahmadinejad who is making the same statements, and we watch before our very eyes he's building a nuclear arsenal.    And what are we doing, Mr. Speaker? Well, we are talking about sanctions. And how effective are these sanctions going to be when it's necessary to have Russia and China to help us with that? And of course, all we are getting from them is rhetoric. In fact, the only thing structurally that's been done in all of this discussion is we've given up missile defense in the Czech Republic and in Poland. So we are already beginning the appeasement process in this world while we have another Hitler-like figure out there beginning to plan the destruction of the Jews once again.  So I think we need to stand, Mr. Speaker, with our brothers and sisters in Israel, in their protection. Because in as much as Israel is so capable of taking care of itself--we all know just what a small strip of land that is--and while Israel can protect itself in many ways, there is no way that Israel can protect itself from an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead, and that is precisely what Iran is doing today..."
 
> Thompson on why Israel should not have to give up any settlements:   "...It struck me that many of those settlements are in strategic locations. They're high ground from which terrorists, the Palestinians, lobbed missiles and rockets onto the men, women, and children of Israel. And those were taken as a part of the war in 1948, and frankly, they're extremely important areas to hold on to.   I kind of think of the--as I think about our President, President Obama, dictating onto the Israeli nation that they should give up the space, it's a little bit like somebody coming to us and saying, okay, now you need to give back New Mexico, California, and Nevada to the sovereign nation of Mexico. We wouldn't stand for that. I would certainly hope that the sovereign nation of Israel would not stand for that as well."
 
>Schock, again, on why settlements are not really an issue (and why the real issue is Palestinian rejection of Israel):     "...It seems to me a little disingenuous on the part of our administration to suggest that somehow what stands between the current situation and a path road to peace is the issue of settlements is really a misnomer.   The reality is the State of Israel has shown throughout their history that they are the ones who have bargained in good faith and time and time again shown a willingness to give up lands as they have and only to their own peril; as you mentioned, what you saw in Sderot with the bomb shelters and the people who have suffered as a result of them giving up the Gaza Strip.  But the issue of Israel willing to give up this settlement or that settlement or redraw the boundaries, you and I both heard from Netanyahu's own words that they're not wedded to any set boundary. But what we also heard was out of the lips of the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, which was his unwillingness to accept Israel as a Jewish state. Therein lies the real problem with the pathway to peace and a two-state solution: the Palestinians' unwillingness at this point to recognize Israel as a Jewish state..."


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