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APN Legislative Round-Up - April 25, 2008

I. Bills and Resolutions; II. Congressional Spotlight on Iran and Syria; III. Israel at 60 Tributes

...for the week ending April 25, 2008

I.   Bills and Resolutions
II.  Congressional Spotlight on Iran and Syria
III. Israel at 60 Tributes


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I. BILLS AND RESOLUTIONS
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(SYRIA - SANCTIONS AND REGIME CHANGE) S. 2917: Introduced 4/24/08 by Sen. Cronyn (R-TX) and no cosponsors, "to strengthen sanctions against the Government of Syria, to enhance multilateral commitment to address the Government of Syria's threatening policies, to establish a program to support a transition to a democratically-elected government in Syria, and for other purposes." Referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

(UN RESTRICTIONS) HR 5886: Introduced 4/24/08 by Rep. Broun (R-GA), "To restrict the diplomatic travel of officials and representatives of state sponsors of terrorism, and for other purposes." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The bill, as described by Broun, "would limit the vicinity for state sponsors of terrorism to a half-mile radius of the U.N. complex. Half of a mile is more than enough space for personnel to obtain lodging, food and other necessities, even medical care, and it will be easier and more cost effective for the U.S. intelligence community and law enforcement to monitor suspected individuals when necessary. Current mileage restrictions are far too lax to be effective. Some individuals from countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism are permitted to travel within a 25-mile radius of Columbus Circle in New York City. That is 50 miles from end to end which is a horrendously large area to effectively monitor hundreds of terrorist sponsors. And yet some countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism have no mileage restrictions at all."

(ISRAEL AT 60) S. Res. 522: Introduced 4/17/08 by Sen. Reid (D-NV) and having 99 cosponsors at that time it was brought to the Senate floor (meaning that every member of the Senate had signed on as a cosponsor) "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." Agreed to in the Senate by unanimous consent 4/22/08.

(ISRAEL AT 60) H. Con. Res. 322: Introduced 4/4/08 by House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), and having 270 cosponsors at the time it was brought to the House floor for a vote, "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." Passed 4/23/08 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 417-0. On 4/24/08, the measure was sent to the Senate, which also passed it by unanimous consent (in addition to S. Res. 522, which it passed on 4/22/08).

(ARAB ANTI-SEMITISM) H. Res. 1127: Introduced 4/22/08 by Rep. Ackerman (D-NY), Chairman of the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and six cosponsors, "Condemning the endemic restrictions on freedom of the press and media and public expression in the Middle East and the concurrent and widespread presence of anti-Semitic material, Holocaust denial, and incitement to violence in the Arab media and press." Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.


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II. CONGRESSIONAL SPOTLIGHT ON IRAN AND SYRIA
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Syria
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4/24/08: As was widely reported in the national and international press, on 4/24/08 U.S. intelligence officials and senior Administration officials briefed members of Congress (behind closed doors) on details of the purported nuclear facility (under construction) in Syria that was bombed by Israel on 9/6/2007.

What is reported to be the text of the briefing can be read at: http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/1865/full-text-of-the-syria-briefing.

A video shown as part of the presentation can be viewed at: http://www.veoh.com/videos/v7050049q3tmHXpp?searchId=110650149391887075&rank=1 or http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7366235.stm

4/24/08: The House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a hearing entitled "U.S. Policy and the Road to Damascus: Who's Converting Whom?" The hearing featured Martin Indyk (Director, Saban Center, the Brookings Institution), Ammar Abdul Hammid (Director, the Tharwa Foundation) and Peter Rodman (Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution). Statements by Subcommittee Chairman Ackerman (D-NY) and the witnesses can be read at: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/sub_mideast.asp

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Iran
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4/24/08: The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security held a 2-panle hearing entitled "Addressing Iran's Nuclear Ambitions." Panel 1 witnesses were Jeffrey Feltman (Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State) and Patricia McNerney (Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, International Security and Nonproliferation). Panel 2 witnesses were Dennis Ross (Counselor and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow , Washington Institute for Near East Policy), Stephen Rademaker (Senior Counsel , Barbour Griffith and Rogers, LLC), Graham Allison (Director , Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government), and Jim Walsh (Research Associate , Massachusetts Institute of Technology). In addition, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) both appeared as "special congressional witnesses."

Witness statements can be read at: http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?Fuseaction=Hearings.Detail&HearingID=6e509d37-d669-4fe2-a436-589b47bc9bf7.

A detailed report on the hearing is available at: http://irannuclearwatch.blogspot.com/2008/04/senate-hearing-addressing-irans-nuclear.html.

The Congressional Quarterly article on the hearing can be read at: http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docid=hsnews-000002710922.

4/17: The House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a hearing entitled "Between Feckless and Reckless: U.S. Policy Options to Prevent a Nuclear Iran." Witnesses Jeffrey Feltman (Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State) and Daniel Glaser (Deputy Assistant Secretary, Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, Department of the Treasury).

Statements and a webcast of the hearing can be accessed at: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/sub_mideast.asp.

Details of the hearing can be read at: http://irannuclearwatch.blogspot.com/2008/04/between-feckless-and-reckless.html.

Congressional Quarterly article on the hearing can be read at: http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=hsnews-000002706512&cpage=1

4/8/08: The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on S. 970, the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007. Witnesses were Phillip Gordon (Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution), William A. Reinsch (President, National Foreign Trade Council), Orde Kittrie (Visiting Associate Professor, University of Maryland School of Law), and Danielle Pletka (Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute). Statements by Chairman Baucus (D-MT), Ranking Member Grassley (R-IA) and witnesses can be read at: http://finance.senate.gov/sitepages/hearing040808.htm.

A Webcast of the hearing is available at: http://finance.senate.gov/hearings/other/hearing040808.ram.

Commentary on the hearing can be read at: http://irannuclearwatch.blogspot.com/2008/04/sanctions-finance-committee-holds.html.


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III. ISRAEL AT 60 TRIBUTES
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In recent weeks House leadership has set aside floor time for Members to make statements honoring the 60th anniversary of Israel's establishment (time will continue to be set aside every week through June). This week, the House passed H. Con. Res. 322, honoring Israel at 60. In the context of this resolution, many members made floor statements or inserted remarks into the record. Included below is a list of all members who made such statements. There are also excerpts from some of the statements, focusing on those members who took the opportunity to not only congratulate and express support for Israel, but also to express support for efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Members who made floor statements or inserted statements into the record:

4/22/08

Baca (D-CA) Bachmann (R-MN) Berman (D-CA) Boehner (R-OH) Burton (R-IN) Capps (D-CA) Carnahan (D-MO) Carson (D-IN) Clyburn (D-SC) Crowley (D-NY) Dingell (D-MI) Engel (D-NY) Faleomavaega (D-AS) Farr (D-CA) Harman (D-CA) Hoyer (D-MD) Klein (D-FL) Kucinich (D-OH) Lampson (D-TX) Lowey (D-CA) Mahoney (D-FL) Markey (D-MA) Matsui (D-CA) McGovern (D-MA) McNulty (D-NY) Miller (R-FL) Murphy (D-PA) Nadler (D-NY) Pelosi (D-CA) Pence (R-IN) Poe (R-TX) Price (R-GA) Rahall (D-WV) Reyes (D-TX) Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) Rothman (D-NJ) Ruppersberger (D-MD) Sires (D-NJ) Skelton (D-MO) Tauscher (D-CA) Tsongas (D-MA) Udall (D-CO) Van Hollen (D-MD) Waxman (D-CA) Weldon (R-FL) Wexler (D-FL) Woolsey (D-CA)

4/23/08

Allen (D-ME) Berkley (D-NV) Crowley (D-NY) Davis (R-VA) Garrett (R-NJ) Jackson-Lee (D-TX) Lee (D-CA) Lewis (D-GA) Maloney (D-NY) Mccarthy (D-NY) Michaud (D-ME) Schakowsky (D-IL) Tanner (D-TN) Tubbs Jones (D-OH) Udall (D-NM)

4/24/08

Rahall (D-WV) Space (D-OH) Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) Foxx (R-NC)

Also, from the Senate (in the context of the introduction of S. Con. Res. 522):

Sen. Reid (D-NV) 4/17/08 Sen. Boxer (D-CA) 4/17/08

Excerpts
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>Allen (D-ME) 4/23/08: ".I support a two-state solution that provides for the existence of a self-governing Palestinian state with a separate national identity. However, Israel has the right to defend itself against attacks, and we must insist that the Palestinian Government recognize the State of Israel and act and speak out against suicide bombings and other acts of terror. I believe that the United States should devote significant resources to promoting peace in the Middle East. History has shown that active and consistent U.S. diplomatic engagement can promote progress, while a passive U.S. role can lead to the opposite. The pursuit of diplomacy with leaders in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and regional partner countries who recognize the inevitability and importance of coexistence and economic integration must continue to be a top U.S. foreign policy goal. The active engagement of Congress in diplomacy with Israel and other countries in the Middle East is a welcome development. The international community must focus its energy on advancing prospects for a lasting, secure peace in the Middle East. I congratulate the Israeli people on this important achievement. I am pleased to support this resolution and urge my colleagues to do so as well."

>Capps (D-CA) 4/22/08: "I rise in support of H. Con. Res. 322 and join my colleagues in congratulating the people of the State of Israel on the 60th anniversary of their independence. In its short 60 years as an independent nation, Israel has made remarkable achievements in all sectors of society.  Despite its tumultuous experiences, Israel is a vibrant democracy that embraces a free press and political dissent. Israel has also contributed remarkably through miraculous breakthroughs in medicine, revolutionary technological advancements, cultural icons and an agricultural system that is a model for the entire world. But the one thing Israel has yet been unable to achieve is a lasting peace with its neighbors. Wouldn't the best way to celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary be a renewed commitment to peace? We know that peace will only be achieved through a two-state solution. The Palestinian people's legitimate political aspirations must be realized in order for the people of Israel to live safely and securely. I have spent time with Israelis and Palestinians and the message they convey is universal. They just want to live in peace knowing that the future for their children is brighter than the past they have experienced.  It is time for us to focus on our common goals rather than our differences.  It is time to foster the people-to-people programs that connect Israelis and Palestinians on more human levels.  Peace for Palestinians and Israelis is in the best interest of everyone in the region and also the United States.  The U.S. must be active participants in the peace process and direct more resources towards this goal."

>Kucinich (D-OH) 4/22/08: ".like many Israelis and Palestinians, I have concerns about Israel's future, its stability, its security and the prospect for peaceful coexistence for both Palestinians and Israelis.H. Con. Res. 322 eloquently states the many reasons why I celebrate Israel's accomplishments and I sincerely wish it a bright future. I only wish to add that, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many Israelis and Palestinians as well, Israel's future will be bright only if it includes an open dialogue with Palestinians, a respect for human rights and international law, and a society built on coexistence and tolerance. Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace with justice and I encourage the United States government to help Israel achieve that so the joy of future anniversaries will be unalloyed. I support the resolution in the spirit of reconciliation to which we must all inevitably turn, to achieve peace and justice with our brothers and sisters from whom we may be estranged."

>Lee (D-CA) 4/23/08: ".We all agree that Israel and the Israeli people have accomplished much during its 60 years. As this resolution points out, Israel has forged a politically diverse and dynamic society with a thriving economy and vibrant cultural and intellectual life. It has produced 8 Nobel Prize winners and has provided sanctuary for millions of Jews throughout the world. I have visited Israel on more than one occasion and I was most impressed by its commitment to many of the democratic principles we cherish here in the United States. As the resolution points out, there are many common bonds between the United States and Israel. So, Mr. Speaker, as a strong supporter of the Israeli people and Israel's right to exist, I agree we should take time to recognize Israel on this momentous occasion. I also believe, however, that we must take this opportunity to encourage Israel and all the parties involved to find a workable solution to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and to redouble efforts on the path to peace."

>Michaud (D-ME) 4/23/08: ".As we commemorate this anniversary, we must also recognize the challenges that face Israel. Security and prosperity will only be reached when a resolution to the conflict between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples is achieved. It is critical that we engage both Israel and the Palestinian leadership to find a way forward. It is also critical that we support initiatives that create greater dialogue, cooperation and economic development between Israelis and Palestinians. I have been a strong supporter of Seeds of Peace, which has a camp located in my district, which brings Arab and Israeli youth together to dispel stereotypes and build lasting trust within the regional leaders of tomorrow. I have also been a strong supporter of the Middle East Regional Cooperation program and other programs that create people-to-people reconciliation and coexistence in the Middle East. Israel is friend and ally of the United States and it is my honor to recognize the 60th anniversary of its founding. True support for Israel lies in standing with our friend as its civilians face down indiscriminate rocket attacks and in pushing for a permanent peace that provides security and dignity to both Israelis and Palestinians. On this special occasion it is important to commemorate the past, but also to look toward the future. As our two Nations enter our seventh decade as allies, we must continue to actively pursue our common dream of peace, freedom and security--a dream that I believe is shared by all peoples of the world."

>Ruppersberger (D-MA) 4/22/08: ".The ongoing Palestinian/Israeli conflict is of great concern to me. The loss of innocent lives on both sides is troubling and tragic. The ultimate solution must come in the form of a true peace between these neighbors so they may live side-by-side. I support policies that promote a peaceful solution to the conflict. I have visited the region a half dozen times and met with leaders in several of the key countries. I am convinced that a path to peace is the only way to provide true security and prosperity for every nation. Since Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, peace in this troubled area is of direct interest to our Nation. Our Nations' strong alliance will help create a lasting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis and will diminish much of the tension and violence throughout the Middle East."

>Udall (D-CO) 4/22/08: ".The United States recognized the State of Israel the day it was established on May 14, 1948. In the ensuing 60 years, the people of Israel have established a democratic society, developed an advanced economy, and created a thriving culture in the face of war, terrorism, and threats to its security. H. Con. Res. 322 expresses 'enduring support for Israel as Israel pursues peace with its neighbors.' The importance of peace in the region cannot be overstated. Without it there can be no regional stability and no security for Israel. Over the decades, the United States has played a special role in helping facilitate the peace process in the region, and I believe we must continue to play that role. For 60 years, the United States and Israel have shared strong bonds of friendship, common values, and strategic interests. Our support for the people of Israel has been a fundamental part of American foreign policy and remains so today. In the post-9/11 world and with American soldiers engaged in two wars on Islamic soil, I believe our historic alliance with the State of Israel has even greater significance."

>Woolsey (D-CA) 4/22/08: ".Israel has been a constant friend of the American people and a strong proponent for the spread of democracy.  In my travels, I saw the future for Israel and for the region: The children. It is our moral obligation to current and future generations to support a true path to peace and reconciliation. We must work towards a time free from conflict. The children of Israel and the region deserve the right to hope and dream of a world that is secure and stable.  Today, I join my colleagues in recognition of this important anniversary and look forward to a peaceful role for the U.S. throughout the region.


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