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APN Legislative Round-Up - April 11, 2008

I. Bills, Resolutions, and Dear Colleagues; II. Rice on FY09 ForOps Request; III. Israel at 60 Tributes

...for the week ending April 11, 2008

I.   Bills, Resolutions, and Dear Colleagues
II.  Rice on FY09 ForOps Request
III. Israel at 60 Tributes

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I. BILLS, RESOLUTIONS, AND DEAR COLLEAGUES
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(*ISRAEL** AT 60): H. Con. Res. 322:* Introduced 4/4/08 by House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and 11 cosponsors, and as of this writing having 122 cosponsors, "Recognizing the 60th anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel and reaffirming the bonds of close friendship and cooperation between the United States and Israel." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. 

According to an AIPAC Action Alert circulated on 4/8/2008, *"**The deadline for cosponsoring this resolution is Monday, April 14 at **noon**." It is not clear what this means, since under legislative rules *there is no such thing as a "deadline" for cosponsoring a resolution.  A member can add their name as a cosponsor to a resolution up until the time that resolution is reported out of Committee or, if the measure is moved directly to the floor (i.e., the rules are suspended to allow the resolution to bypass the committee of jurisdiction), until the time that the resolution is brought to the floor for action. Given that the resolution is not scheduled to come before the Foreign Affairs Committee or to go to the floor on Monday, it would appear that this "deadline" is essentially a strategy to create a sense of urgency among activists, and to make members feel that they had better cosponsor before it is too late.

(*IRAN**) S. 970:* Introduced 3/22/07 by Sen. Smith (R-OR) and currently having 70 cosponsors, "A bill to impose sanctions on Iran and on other countries for assisting Iran in developing a nuclear program, and for other purposes." After nearly a year with no action on this measure, on 4/8/08 the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the measure. For a detailed discussion of the hearing, see: http://irannuclearwatch.blogspot.com/2008/04/sanctions-finance-committee-holds.html

 S. 970 is the Senate version of HR 1400, which was passed by the House on 9/25/07. For background on S. 970, included APN's statement to Senate offices explaining our opposition to the measure, see the 4/13/07 edition of the Round-Up. Our position on S. 970 notes that: "...APN supports the imposition of targeted U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, but believes strongly that such sanctions should be part of a comprehensive strategy that includes both carrots and sticks...Unfortunately, S. 970 does not embody this kind of comprehensive strategy. Rather, it represents a perpetuation and escalation of the existing 'sticks-only' policy. If enacted into law, it would impose broader sanctions -- employing bigger, blunter sticks -- that would target not only Iran but all those members of the international community who do not share the U.S. sanctions-only approach. Not only would such a policy likely fail to sway Iran, but it would likely complicate and seriously strain relations with those very nations whose cooperation the U.S. needs in order to craft a comprehensive policy toward Iran policy that can deliver success (e.g., the Europeans, Russia, Japan)..."

============================================== II. RICE ON SUPPLEMENTAL AID REQUEST FOR THE PALESTINIANS
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In a week where the new cycle was dominated by hearings about Iraq, on April 9 Secretary of State Rice appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Foreign Operations to defend the Administration's FY09 Foreign Operations budget request. Some of her comments about funding for the Middle East (taken from her prepared testimony) are included below.  A comprehensive look at Middle East-related funding in the FY09 request was included in the 2/8/08 edition of the Round-Up.  [Note: It is useful to bear in mind the fact that there is a high probability few if any appropriations bills (including ForOps) will be passed this year. Given the virtually irreconcilable budget differences that exist between Congress and the Administration, and given the upcoming elections, neither side has any incentive to compromise. Thus, in all likelihood, Congress will end up passing continuing resolutions (i.e., bills that permit the government to continue functioning at current budget levels, but permitting no new programs or funding).]

Rice testimony
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West Bank/Gaza: "The United States is firmly committed to supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they work to realize peace. Working with international donors and Quartet Representative Tony Blair, the United States is strengthening our support for the Palestinian Authority (PA) Government to help achieve this end. Our FY 2009 funding request for the West Bank and Gaza is $100 million. This includes $25 million for the Palestinian Authority Security Sector Reform Program, part of a broader U.S. and international effort to strengthen and transform the Palestinian security sector and assist the PA in its efforts to extend law and order and meet its Roadmap obligations to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, thereby providing a reliable partner for Israel. Establishing the rule of law and effective security in the West Bank will support President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad by demonstrating to the Palestinian people that the PA can reduce lawlessness and improve their lives, and by building the capacity of the PA to address security threats against Israel. The request includes $24 million for democracy projects that will assist the PA government to extend the rule of law and improve governance, including bolstering the justice system through training judges and building judicial independence, and supporting local municipalities. A further $18 million will assist the PA to achieve economic growth by focusing on activities that increase agricultural productivity, provide support for microenterprises, create private sector opportunity and increase trade. Finally, $33 million will assist the PA government to provide essential health, education, and humanitarian services to the Palestinian people.  U.S. government assistance in these areas will help the Palestinian people directly and support moderates such as President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, while also providing tools through security improvements, civil society building, and economic growth to combat Hamas and its terrorist infrastructure."

ESF: "The FY 2009 request for Economic Support Funds (ESF) is $3.15 billion, an increase of $164 million over the FY 2008 enacted level. ESF remains a reliable assistance mechanism by which we advance U.S. interests through programs that help recipient countries address short- and long-term political, economic, and security needs. ESF also supports major foreign policy initiatives such as working to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and regional economic integration in East Asia. ESF funds global and regional programs that support specific U.S. foreign policy goals, including assistance to states critical in the War on Terror."

FMF: "The request of $4.812 billion for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) will advance U.S. interests by ensuring that coalition partners, allies, and friendly foreign governments have the equipment and training necessary for common security goals and burden-sharing in joint missions. This request includes $2.55 billion for Israel, the first year of a 10 year $30 billion commitment. FMF promotes our national security by strengthening the defense of friendly governments and bolstering their abilities to contain transnational threats, terrorism, and trafficking in persons, weapons, and narcotics. This request provides funding for Egypt to foster a modern, well-trained Egyptian military, and support for force modernization, border surveillance and counter-terrorism efforts in Jordan. FMF is helping to build a Lebanese army capable of implementing UN Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701, secure Lebanon's border against weapons smuggling, and begin the process of disarming militias in Lebanon. The request also finances programs with the Gulf States of Bahrain and Oman as part of the Gulf Security Dialogue. FMF will also assist ongoing efforts to incorporate into NATO the most recent members of the Alliance and to support prospective NATO members and coalition partners, as well as partners in Iraq and Afghanistan."

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III. ISRAEL AT 60 TRIBUTES
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As noted in last week's Round-Up, House leadership is setting aside floor time every week, starting last week through June, for Members to make statements honoring Israel's 60th. The Round-Up will be tracking these statements. Other than in exceptional cases (e.g., a member making a statement opposing the two-state solution, or a member calling for stronger U.S. leadership to achieve peace) we will not comment on the content of the statements.

Rep. Costello (D-IL) 4/4/08 Rep. Weldon (R-FL) 4/10/08 Rep. Johnson (D-TX) 4/10/08 Rep. Cantor (R-VA) 4/10/08


For more information, contact Lara Friedman, APN Director of Policy and Government Relations, at 202/728-1893, or at lfriedman@peacenow.org.