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APN Legislative Round-Up - June 27, 2008

I. Bills and Resolutions; II. Final Passage of FY08 Supplemental Approps Bill; III. Clarifying H. Con. Res. 362 & the Issue of Naval Blockade; IV. Gilchrest and Paul on H. Con. Res. 362; V. Obama Letter to Bush on MidEast; VI. Dear Colleagues

...for the week ending June 27, 2008

I.     Bills and Resolutions 
II.   Final Passage of FY08 Supplemental Approps Bill 
III.  Clarifying H. Con. Res. 362 & the Issue of Naval Blockade 
IV.  Gilchrest and Paul on H. Con. Res. 362 
V.   Obama Letter to Bush on MidEast 
VI.  Dear Colleagues


(SUPPLEMENT APPROPRIATIONS) HR 2642: Originally introduced on 6/11/07 as a bill "Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, and for other purposes," this bill transformed into the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (the war supplemental). It has bounced back and forth between the House and Senate several times. In the latest action on 6/26/08, at 9:42pm, the Senate agreed to the latest House version of the bill.  The bill now goes to the President, who is expected to act quickly to sign it into law.   As noted in previous editions of the Round-Up, the bill includes substantial funding for the Middle East.  For more details of this latest action, see:  For full details of Middle East-related provisions of the bill, see Section II, below.

(ARAB MEDIA) H. Res. 1308:  Introduced 6/26/08 by Rep. Bilirakis (R-FL) and 23 cosponsors, "Condemning the broadcasting of incitement to violence against Americans and the United States in media based in the Middle East, and for other purposes."  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.  It should be recalled that on 6/18/08 the House voted to suspend the rules and passed H. Res. 1127 by a voice vote.  That was a resolution "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 incitement to violence and Holocaust denial in the Arab media and press."

(IRAN) H. Res. 1310: Introduced 6/26/08 by Rep. Jackson-Lee (D-TX) and two cosponsors, "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Iran's lack of protection for internationally recognized human rights creates poor conditions for religious freedom in the Islamic Republic of Iran."   Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(SAUDI ARABIA) S. 3193:  Introduced 6/25/08 by Sens. Schumer (D-NY) and Ensign (R-NV), "to restrict nuclear cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(EGYPT)  H. Res. 1303: Introduced 6/24/08 by Rep. Wolf (R-VA) and 14 cosponsors, "Calling on the Egyptian Government to respect human rights and freedoms of religion and expression in Egypt."  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(IRAN) HR 6361: Introduced 6/24/08 by Rep. Weiner (D-NY) and no cosponsors, "To strengthen the liability of parent companies for violations of sanctions by foreign entities, and for other purposes."  The short title of the bill is the "Stop Business with Terrorists Act of 2008." Section 3 of the bill states that "In any case in which an entity engages in an act outside the United States that, if committed in the United States or by a United States person, would violate the provisions of Executive Order 12959 (50 U.S.C. 1701 note) or Executive Order 13059 (50 U.S.C. 1701 note), or any other prohibition on transactions with respect to Iran imposed under the authority of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), the parent company of the entity shall be subject to the penalties for the act to the same extent as if the parent company had engaged in the act."  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(IRAN-RUSSIA) H.J. Res. 95:  Introduced 6/24/08 by Reps. Berman (D-CA) and Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), "Providing for the disapproval of the Congress of the proposed agreement for cooperation between the United States and the Russian Federation pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954."   Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.  This resolution is identical to H. J. Res. 85, introduced 5/14/08 by Rep. Markey (D-MA).  The referenced agreement is the proposed Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation for Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (also known as a 123 Agreement, after the relevant section of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954), transmitted by the President to Congress on 5/13/08 (  For details of the Iran-related controversy over this agreement, see the 5/2/08 edition of the Round-Up, and see:  A 6/24/08 press release from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs quoted Chairman Berman as stating:  "This is a very complicated issue, upon which we've held one hearing.There are some good arguments for the agreement, and some good ones against it.  But for me, this all boils down to one essential question: Will moving forward with this agreement help us in our efforts to persuade Iran to stop pursuing a nuclear weapons program?  I chose to introduce a resolution of disapproval today because I want the Administration to understand that I will not support the agreement until that question - on the most critical foreign policy issue facing our nation today -- is answered to my satisfaction."

(IRAN-RUSSIA) S.J. Res. 42:  Introduced 6/24/08 by Senators Biden (D-DE) and Lugar (R-IN), "A joint resolution relating to the approval of the proposed agreement for nuclear cooperation between the United States and the Russian Federation."  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 2159, for not to exceed 45 calendar days.  For details about the referenced agreement, see above.


On 6/26/08 the Senate passed the latest House version of HR 2642, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008.  As noted in previous issues of the Round-Up, the bill includes funding for the Palestinians, Jordan, and Lebanon.  Notably, in the final version of the bill Congress added substantial funding for Israel.  This funding reflects the fact that Congress will likely not pass a Foreign Operations Appropriations bill this year, meaning all foreign aid programs (like most domestic programs) will be funded through a Continuing Resolution (CR) -- a measure which permits operations to continue at current funding levels, but with no increases.  As noted in the 5/23/08 edition of the Round-Up, some Israel advocates have been urging Congress to add funding to the supplemental to ensure that, despite the fact that virtually all programs will likely be held at current levels until next year, Israel's aid program is funded at the level promised in the new US-Israel MOU.  The added Israel funding achieves this.

In this regard, on 6/27/08, AIPAC issued a press release stating:

"The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) applauds Congress for its approval of $170 million in increased U.S. assistance to Israel -- part of the Supplemental Appropriations Acts of Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009, ensuring the increase in U.S. aid to Israel, $2.55b for FY09, up from $2.38b in FY08.  Given the likelihood that Congress will enact a Continuing Resolution at the end of this fiscal year, keeping all programs, including aid to Israel, at fiscal year 2008 levels, leaders in Congress decided to include Israel's aid increase in the supplemental, in line with the first year of the new 10-year, $30 billion security assistance agreement reached between the United States and Israel last August. The supplemental funding bill includes $170 million in security assistance to Israel, providing the increase in Israel's aid for fiscal year 2009 to $2.55 billion, in line with our commitment to Israel's security under the new 10-year, $30 billion aid agreement signed last year." (

Summary of Middle East Funding in the FY08 Supplemental 

Subchapter A:  Fiscal Year 2008 Supplemental Appropriations for the Middle East 

West Bank:   >>>Economic Support Funds (ESF):  "not more than $171,000,000 of the funds approved under this heading in this subchapter shall be made available for the West Bank and Gaza and none of such funds shall be for cash transfer assistance"  >>> International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE): "not more than $25,000,000 shall be made available for security assistance for the West Bank"

Jordan:  >>>ESF:  "$175,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Jordan to meet the needs of Iraqi refugees"  >>> Foreign Military Financing (FMF): "$17,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Jordan"

Subchapter B:  Fiscal Year 2009 Supplemental "Bridge" Appropriations for the Middle East 

West Bank:  >>>ESF:  "not more than $150,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for the West Bank and Gaza"  >>>INCLE:  "not more than $50,000,000 of the funds appropriated under this heading shall be made available for security assistance for the West Bank"

Jordan:  >>>ESF: "$100,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Jordan"  >>>FMF: "$100,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Jordan"

In addition, under the General Provisions subchapter of this bill (discussed further, below), there is a section entitled "Jordan," which provides additional funding, as follows:

>>> "Sec. 1413. (a) For an additional amount for `Economic Support Fund' for assistance for Jordan, $25,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2009."  >>>> "(b) For an additional amount for `Foreign Military Financing Program' for assistance for Jordan, $33,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2009."  >>>Sec. 1413 stipulates that this additional $58 million for Jordan will be funded through the rescission of the unexpended balances of funds previously appropriates for the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The text also stipulates that Sec. 8002 of title VII of the bill shall not apply to this section. This section of the bill stipulates that "Each amount in each title of this Act is designated as an emergency requirement and necessary 17 to meet emergency needs pursuant to subsections (a) and (b) of section 204 of S. Con. Res. 21 (110th Congress), the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2008."

Israel:  >>>FMF:  "not less than $170,000,000 shall be made available for grants only for Israel and shall be disbursed not later than November 1, 2008"

Lebanon:  >>>no funds are provided for Lebanon in the bill text. However, under FMF, the bill notes that "section 3802(c) of title III, Chapter 8 of Public Law 110-28 shall apply to funds made available under this heading for assistance to Lebanon." The referenced law states that "Prior to the initial obligation of funds made available in this Act for assistance for Lebanon under the headings 'Foreign Military Financing Program' and 'Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs', the Secretary of State shall certify to the Committees on Appropriations that all practicable efforts have been made to ensure that such assistance is not provided to or through any individual, or private or government entity, that advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity."  Explanatory text: "The Committee recommends $145,000,000 for the Foreign Military Financing Program, of which.$45,000,000 is for assistance for Lebanon."

Subchapter C: General Provisions 

This subchapter includes a special section, Sec. 1404, entitled "West Bank," establishing additional new reporting requirements related to the Palestinian security forces, as follows:

"Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act and 180 days thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations a report on assistance provided by the United States for the training of Palestinian security forces, including detailed descriptions of the training, curriculum, and equipment provided; an assessment of the training and the performance of forces after training has been completed; and a description of the assistance that has been pledged and provided to Palestinian security forces by other donors: Provided, That not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall report to the Committees on Appropriations, in classified form if necessary, on the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority."

==============================================  III.    CLARIFYING H. CON. RES. 362 & THE ISSUE OF NAVAL BLOCKADE 

As noted in previous editions of the Round-Up, concerns have arisen about language included in H. Con. Res. 362 -- language which some fear could be construed as calling for or supporting a naval blockade of Iran.  The language in question, the third "resolved" clause in the resolution, states that Congress: "demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran's nuclear program..."

As noted in last week's Round-Up, in response to these concerns House sources have argued strongly and credibly that the intention of H. Con. Res. 362 is neither to call for nor support a naval blockade of Iran, and have emphasized other language in the resolution stating that nothing in the resolution should be construed as authorizing the use of force. 

On 6/26/08, the lead cosponsors of H. Con. Res. 362, Reps. Ackerman (D-NY) and Pence (R-IN), circulated a new Dear Colleague seeking additional cosigners on the resolution.  The Dear Colleague directly addresses the concerns about whether the resolution calls for a naval blockade -- clarifying that this is not the intent.  The relevant portion of that letter is included below.  In addition, on 6/24/08 AIPAC issued "updated" talking points urging Members to co-sponsor H. Con. Res. 362.  Previous AIPAC talking points on the resolution and on Iran, circulated in the context of the recent AIPAC conference in Washington, emphasized the importance of curtailing Iran's ability to import refined petroleum products, but did not offer any information about how this should be achieved.  The updated AIPAC talking points now address this issue and deal directly with concerns about a naval blockade, stating categorically that this is not the intent of the resolution.  The relevant section of the updated AIPAC talking points is also included, below.

Both of these clarifications are welcome.  It should be recalled that this is a non-binding resolution, in effect representing a statement of Congressional views, rather than a change in law.  The fact that the initiators of the resolution have gone on the record explicitly clarifying their intent is significant and should go some distance to reassuring those who are afraid the resolution might be a vehicle to advance a much more problematic agenda (or might be construed as such).  Hopefully other members who cosponsor or vote for the resolution will go on the record to clarify their own understanding of the intent of the language and, if possible, work to improve the text before it is brought to the floor for a vote.

For the full text of the Ackerman-Pence Dear Colleague and additional analysis, see:

For additional analyses, including from an international legal expert, see:


Excerpt from 6/26/08 Ackerman-Pence Dear Colleague:

"Though the stakes are high and time is short, the resolution is explicit in stating that meeting the challenge from Iran must be done using all appropriate political, diplomatic and economic levers. To our surprise and dismay, however, some have mistakenly suggested the resolution calls for a 'naval blockade' or even amounts to 'a declaration of war.'  These assertions are absolutely false and, frankly, utter nonsense. The resolution states plainly and distinctly that 'nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran;' the economic sanctions the President is urged to seek are explicitly placed in an international context; and the methods contemplated for achieving these sanctions are no different than those currently being employed to implement existing UN Security Council sanctions on Iran, namely enforcement of export controls by UN member states within their own borders."


Excerpt from 6/24/08 AIPAC Updated Talking Points:

".One key way to pressure the regime is for the United States to lead an international campaign to cut off the sale of refined petroleum products to Iran, which has to import 40 percent of its refined petroleum -- gasoline and diesel fuel.

"The prohibition on exports envisioned in the resolutions constitutes an international ban on the sale of refined petroleum products to Iran, potentially through the European Union or the United Nations, not a naval 'blockade' or an international 'embargo.'

"The resolutions specifically state that nothing in the resolutions should 'be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran.'"


Two House members have already gone on the record expressing concern about H. Con. Res. 382.

Gilchrest (R-MD) 6/26/08:

"Mr. Speaker, I want to speak today on Resolution 362 that is circulating in the House and its impact on policy in the Middle East. As a result of Resolution 362 and its tightening of sanctions on Iran in a more broader way, will that have a positive impact on America's policy in the Middle East? Will it have a positive impact on the politics in the Middle East? Will it have a positive impact on Iran as far as the conflict between our two nations is concerned?

"I will say, in my judgment, Mr. Speaker, that Resolution 362 will exacerbate, make much more difficult, the problems in the Middle East, the relationship of Iran with its neighbors in the Middle East, and the relationship of Iran with the United States, and the relationship of Iran with the country of Israel. Let me try to explain why.

"If we look at the Middle East right now in a very objective fashion, what is going on in the Middle East right now?  The geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East right now is fractured. We are focusing on the conflict in Iraq. We need as a Nation to focus objectively on the Palestinian-Israeli question, to resolve that issue, to reduce the number of recruits for al Qaeda and the Taliban. We need to understand that Saudi Arabia, a Sunni country, does not want Iraq, a Shia country, to become an Iranian satellite.  We need to understand that Iran, who lost more men dead in a conflict with Iraq just a few years ago than we lost in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam combined, wants to have some influence in the Middle East and certainly with what will go on in Iraq.

"What will influence the direction the Middle East will take in the decades to come? There is violent conflict there. There is political conflict there. There is mistrust in the Middle East.  Let me use a quote from Sam Rayburn, former Speaker of the House. 'Any mule can kick a barn door down, but it takes carpenters to rebuild that door and that barn.' We need carpenters. We need diplomats. More conflict, more restrictions, more sanctions is going to further exacerbate the problem in the Middle East and its relationship with the country of Iran.

"One other quick comment. Iran is not an Arab country. Iran is a Persian nation that speaks Farsi, that does not speak Arabic. It is a nation of Shias with their own brand of Islam. Knowledge and an informed policy in the Middle East, a surge of diplomacy, can make a key difference. Let me go back and express some precedence of the past about diplomacy and where it worked.

"When Nikita Khrushchev said he was going to bury the United States, what was Eisenhower's response? He invited Nikita Khrushchev to the United States to tour the Nation, and it began to lessen the conflict between the two countries.  What did President Kennedy do when there were deployable nuclear weapons in Cuba aimed at the United States? He negotiated his way out of that conflict and saved a catastrophe.

"What did Nixon do after Mao Zedong said it would be worth half the population of China being destroyed if we could destroy the capitalists in America? What did Nixon do? He had a dialogue. He went to China. What happened when we did not have a dialogue, some understanding of Ho Chi Minh? A million people died.

"Today in the Middle East we certainly need a strong military, we need a strong intelligence. But the aspect that is missing in the Middle East is what Eisenhower said was so critical in foreign policy; that is, consensus and dialogue.

"Mr. Speaker, there are a number of Members in this house that have started a long time ago, a couple of years, beginning a dialogue with the Iranians. Just last fall, 58 Members of this House on both sides of the aisle signed a letter to the parliament in Iran asking for a parliamentary exchange; 58 Members of Republicans and Democrats. That letter was hand-delivered by some of us in Lisbon to Iranian parliamentarians. They took it to Iran. And what is their response to us? They want a dialogue. There are members of the Iranian parliament that want a dialogue. Consensus and dialogue.

"We need more carpenters. Vote against Resolution 362."

Paul (R-TX), 6/26/08:  

".the one issue that I do want to mention tonight is a resolution that is about to come to this floor, if our suspicions are correct, after the July 4th holiday. And this bill will probably be brought up under suspension, it will probably be expected to pass easily, and probably will be, and it's just more war propaganda, more preparation to go to war against Iran. And this resolution, H.J. Res. 362, is a virtual war resolution. It is the declaration of tremendous sanctions and boycotts and embargoes on Iran. It's very, very severe. Let me just read what is involved in this, if this bill passes, what we're telling the President he must do. This demands that the President impose stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials. I mean, this is unbelievable. This is closing down Iran. Where do we have this authority? Where do we get the moral authority? Where do we get the international legality for this? Where do we get the constitutional authority for this?  This is what we did for 10 years before we went into Iraq. We starved children. 50,000 individuals that were admitted probably died because of the sanctions on the Iraqis. They were incapable at the time of attacking us, and all of the propaganda that was given for our need to go into Iraq wasn't true. And it's not true today about the severity. And they say, Yeah, but Ahmadinejad, he's a bad guy. He's threatened violence. But you know, us threatening violence is very, very similar. We must look at this carefully. We just can't go to work again under these careless, frivolous conditions."


On 6/24/08 Sen. Obama (D-IL) sent a letter to President Bush regarding the Middle East.  The full text of the letter is included here:

Dear Mr. President:

I recently outlined my views on the Middle East in a major speech, and I am writing to reiterate some of the concerns and priorities I raised in that speech.

A fundamental principle of America's Middle East policy must be our unshakeable commitment to Israel's security.  I believe that it is a bipartisan commitment, and I will work to continue and advance that consensus.  But I am deeply concerned that Israel's security has been put at greater risk, both because of new threats from implacable enemies like Iran, Hizbollah, and Hamas, and because of policy choices by the United States.

One essential step for ensuring Israel's security in the long term would be achieving a lasting peace with its neighbors.  In the case of the Palestinians, that means a negotiated agreement to provide for two states living side-by-side in peace and security, so that both sides can achieve their legitimate aspirations.  Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas commitment themselves to achieving this goal in the process that began at Annapolis, but they will need a sustained, concerted effort by the United States to help them succeed.  In your remaining time in office, I hope you will devote the necessary resources to supporting Israel and Palestinian leaders who are committed to this effort to the maximum possible extent.

These peace efforts take place in a difficult environment.  Hamas, which opposes negotiations and is committed to Israel's destruction, continues to rule in Gaza.  Under their rule, thousands of rockets have been fired at civilian populations in Sderot and surrounding communities in southern Israel, causing over a dozen deaths, many injuries, and the disruptions of normal life for all who live in this area.  Hamas, which is receiving funding, training, and weaponry from Iran, is acquiring longer-range missile capabilities, which enable it to strike even larger populations centers, such as Ashkelon.  Although a truce went into effect last week - and we hope it will bring calm to the people of southern Israel, improve life for Palestinians in Gaza, and lead to the release of Gilad Shalit - the threat posed by Hamas rule has not passed, and will not pass so long as Hamas remains committed to Israel's destruction.

In the face of this threat, several firm positions are called for by the United States.  First, we must reiterate that Israel has the right to defend itself from such attacks, and that the United States will stand up for that right in the United Nations and elsewhere.  Second, we must press Egypt to devote more resources and effort to stopping the smuggling of weapons into Gaza from the Sinai, where most of Hamas' weaponry arrives from.  This will help ensure that Hamas does not use the truce to rearm and regroup.  Third, we must continue to isolate Hamas, and ensure that others do so, until and unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by past agreements.

It is also imperative that other Arab governments step forward to give great support to the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.  This support can take two main forms.  First, these governments should deliver on their commitments to deliver large-scale financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority, enabling it to improve economic conditions for Palestinians on the ground.  Saudi Arabia and the other oil-producing states of the Gulf, in particular, have the resources to make a profound investment in Israeli-Palestinian peace by helping to improve the lives of the Palestinians people, and we must urge them to do just that.  The Arab states proclaim their great concern for the Palestinian people and now with unprecedented oil revenues flowing into their coffers, there is no reason not to call on the publicly to provide far more assistance to the Palestinian Authority.  They can also provide important political and diplomatic support to President Abbas as he tries to reach a negotiated settlement.

Second, the Arab states should support the Palestinians and prepare their own people for peace by making gestures of normalization toward Israel.  The entire regional atmosphere would improve, and peacemakers on all sides would see their efforts enhanced, if Arab governments would reach out to Israelis with a sincere indication of their readiness to accept Israel as a legitimate nation in the Middle East. 

Finally, the recent announcement that Israel and Syria have resumed their own peace negotiations is encouraging news, and it should spur the United States to support the parties' efforts to achieve their goal of a negotiated settlement.  Turkey deserves praise for its role in arranging these talks, and the success of these negotiations could, among other things, be a setback for Iran's influence and Hizbollah's ability to acquire advanced weaponry.

I close by urging you to redouble your efforts to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve success in their peace efforts; to stand up for Israel's right of self-defense; to press the Arab states to do more to advance the peace process; and to support the Israeli-Syrian talks.  All of these steps will advance the interests of the United States and the security of our ally, Israel.


(HAMAS TV)  This week Rep. Rob Wexler (D-FL) was circulating a Dear Colleague seeking cosigners on a letter to President Bush, urging him to designate the Hamas television station, Al-Aqsa TV, a specially designated global terrorist entity (as was done previously with Hezbollah's television station, al Manar).  The letter also notes that "there are three satellite companies that broadcast al-Aqsa: Saudi- based Arabsat; Egypt-owned Nilesat; and French-owned Eutelsat. We respectfully request that you make every effort to remove al-Aqsa from these satellite broadcasts."

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