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APN Legislative Round-up for the week ending October 28, 2011

Note to readers: With the end of the High Holidays (and the wonderful 3-day weeks that go with them), the Round-Up is now back to its regular Friday publication schedule. Thanks for your patience.

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. More on Palestinians at the UN (UNESCO, etc)
3. FY12 ForOps Update
4. Ramping Up Congressional Pressure on Iran
5. Odds and Ends

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1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters

(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 1905 and HR 2105: On 11/2/11 the House Committee on Foreign Affairs will meet to mark-up HR 1905, "To strengthen Iran sanctions laws for the purpose of compelling Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and other threatening activities, and for other purposes" and H.R. 2105, "To provide for the application of measures to foreign persons who transfer to Iran, North Korea, and Syria certain goods, services, or technology, and for other purposes." The markup will be held in Rayburn 2172 at 10am and webcast at http://www.hfca.house.gov.

(IRAN/Arizona) HR 1904: Introduced 5/13/11 by Rep. Goser (R-AZ) and having 28 cosponsors, "Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011." Passed in House 10/26/11 by a vote of 235 - 186. During the floor debate over HR 1904 on 10/26/11, an amendment was offered by Rep. Deutch (D-FL), regarding the fact that HR 1904 "awards U.S. land to Resolution Copper, a company owned by Rio Tinto. Rio Tinto also owns a majority stake in the Rossing uranium mine in Namibia, where it partners with the Iran Foreign Investment Company." Deutch noted that "The Iran Foreign Investment Company is wholly owned by the Iranian regime, and last summer the Treasury Department added it to the list of Iranian entities in violation of sanctions law. Quite simply, we are about to reward a company that partners with the Iranian regime to mine, of all things, the uranium it needs to become a nuclear-armed power... My amendment does one thing: It blocks any land exchange with a company or affiliate connected to the Iran Foreign Investment Company. Let me be clear. This amendment will not prevent the passage of the legislation. If adopted, it will be incorporated and we will vote on the final bill. We have come together against a nuclear-armed Iran before, and we can do it again today. Let's put bipartisanship aside. Join me on this motion to recommit and let's unite against the very real threat of a nuclear-armed Iranian regime." Deutch's amendment (which sought to re-commit the bill with instructions) was defeated by a vote of party-line vote of 187-237.

2. More on Palestinians at the UN (UNESCO, etc)

Last week's round-up included a discussion of the U.S. law that would require a cut-off in U.S. funding to UNESCO if it upgrades the PLO's status to a status equivalent to a member state of the UN (law that would apply to any UN agency that does the same), and analysis of how Congress views this matter. This week it seems that people are beginning to take notice of the very real danger this law - and the impending clash with UN agencies over the status of the Palestinians - could pose to U.S. interests.

Inter-Press Service, 10/27/11: UNESCO Becomes a New Battleground
AFP, 10/27/11: UNESCO headed for crisis ahead of Palestine vote
AFP, 10/27/11: US threatens to cut off UNESCO over Palestinian bid
Op-ed by the Executive Director of the Israel Project, 10/27/11: The UNESCO meltdown
ForeignPolicy.com 10/25/11: Will Congress's defunding of the U.N. over Palestine hurt U.S. goals around the world? (By Colum Lynch)
Haaretz, 10/25/11: Palestinian membership bid overshadows UNESCO conference
LA Times, 10/24/11: For the U.S., a forced withdrawal from UNESCO (op-ed by former senator Tim Wirth, head of the United Nations Foundation)
New York Times, 10/23/11: Palestinian Bid for Full Unesco Membership Imperils American Financing

3. FY12 ForOps Update

The U.S. Global Leadership Campaign offers the following analysis regarding impending FY12 ForOps developments:

Senate May Take Up FY12 State-Foreign Operations Bill Next Week
With the clock rapidly ticking toward the November 18 expiration of the FY12 Continuing Resolution (CR) - and acknowledgment now from Appropriations leaders that another CR until mid-late December will be necessary - the Senate is preparing to take up another "minibus" appropriations package next week that could include the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (S. 1601). This package is tentatively scheduled to hit the floor on Wednesday following a vote earlier in the week on the first appropriations minibus (comprised of the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD Appropriations bills). While it has yet to be finalized what bills will be in the second minibus, possibilities include State-Foreign Operations with the Financial Services and Energy-Water Appropriations bills or State-Foreign Operations with the Defense and Homeland Security Appropriations bills. Given the current political and fiscal climate, the International Affairs Budget would be very vulnerable to additional cuts during Senate floor consideration. The Senate's $44.64 billion State-Foreign Operations allocation for non-war related "core" programs is a significant $5 billion improvement over the $39.6 billion provided by the House. Therefore, any cuts adopted by the Senate could be damaging in final FY12 negotiations with the House. [Note: text taken from USGLC email update].

3. Ramping Up Congressional Pressure on Iran

On 10/26/11 the House Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management held a joint hearing entitled: "Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil." Witnesses were: General Jack Keane, United States Army (Retired); Reuel Marc Gerecht, Foundation for Defense of Democracies;, Matthew Levitt, WINEP; Lawrence Korb, Center For American Progress Action Fund; Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, United States Marine Corps (Retired). Video of the hearing is available here.

The gist of the hearing was that the alleged Iranian plan to carry out assassinations in the U.S. should spark a sharp escalation in U.S. offensive action against Iran, including far-reaching sanctions (some that could be considered acts of war), cyber attacks, increased covert operations, support for dissident groups (echoes of Ahmad Chalabi?) and assassinations. Witnesses stopped short of calling for war.

For excellent reporting on the hearing, see this report from NIAC, and this article at the Huffington Post. Also see this report on ThinkProgress, looking at Chairman Peter King's (R-NY) argument, when asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if he had hard evidence to back his claim that Iranian diplomats in New York and Washington are plotting terrorist attacks in the U.S., that he knew it was true because it was "common sense" (transcript of Wolf Blitzer interview here).

5. Odds and Ends

Members:

Ros-Lehtinen (R-AZ) will be the keynote speaker at the ZOA's upcoming fundraising dinner, alongside Glenn Back.
Rep Wolf (R-VA) expressing his concerns over religious intolerance in Egypt. In the Congressional Record 10/27/11
Rep. Gohmert (R-TX) on radical Islam at home and in Arab Spring countries. In the Congressional Record 10/26/11
Rep. Ellison (D-MN) on the need for American support of Middle Eastern countries undergoing revolutions. In the Congressional Record 10/25/11
Rep. Pascrell (D-NJ) expressing condolences to Turkey after earthquake. In the Congressional Record 10/25/11
Sen Durbin (D-IL) letter to UN Ambassador Susan Rice concerning the unrest in Syria. It was also signed by Senators Boxer, Cardin and Menendez. 10/25/11
Rep. Poe (R-TX) speaking on the need to deport foreign criminals, notably from Cuba, Iran, Pakistan and China. In the Congressional Record 10/25/11
Sens. McCain (R-IL) and Lieberman (R-, I mean I-CT) joint statement praising last weekend's Tunisian elections. 10/24/11

In the News:

The Forward, 10/28/11: Pernicious Attempt To Brand Protest as Anti-Semitic [including efforts to use Wall Street protests against Reps. Wasserman-Shultz (D-FL) and Israel (D-NY)]
AFP, 10/27/11: Clinton urges Congress to keep Palestinian aid
Hurriyet (Turkey) 10/27/11: US gunships for Turkey need Congress' approval
Jerusalem Post 10/26/11: US Senator Landrieu: Don't cut aid to Israel
The State Column 10/25/11: Intelligence panel member [Sen. Nelson, D-FL] backs punishment for Iran in speech to Senate
Associated Press 10/23/11: US Senator [McCain] Talks about Military Options in Syria
Queens Chronicle 10/20/11: Gillibrand on Jobs, Israel in Flushing
San Francisco Chronicle 10/19/11: Military Force an Option Against Iran, Republican Rogers Says
Washington Post 10/19/11: This is no time to consider cutting aid to Israel (response from Rep. Berman, D-CA, to the 10/18/11 article by Walter Pincus in WaPo: United States needs to reevaluate its assistance to Israel). Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast also weighed in on the Pincus article, here.
Politico 10/18/11: Las Vegas GOP Debate: Paul says aid for Israel should be cut

From the archives: St. Petersburg Times, 5/27/1975: Buoyed by Congress, Israel Won't Alter Negotiating Points (On Congressional letter challenging President Ford's efforts to broker an agreement over Sinai)

Other:

FCNL letter to Congress: Time for Diplomacy - Not War - With Iran"

AMERICAN ISRAEL EDUCATION FOUNDATION (AIEF) Hill event 11/3/11: "Grave Threat: Iran's Nuclear and Terror Pursuit." Speakers are Marvin Feuer and Brad Gordon, Co-Directors of Policy and Government Affairs at AIPAC. The invitation text reads: "Iran's recently uncovered plot to attack Saudi and Israeli targets on American soil exposes Tehran's ever-growing threat to America and our allies. The plan marks the culmination of a decades-old pattern of attacks by a regime quickly approaching a nuclear weapons capability. What is the status of Iran's nuclear program? How would a nuclear-armed Iran supporting such brazen acts threaten the United States? And what kind of impact have U.S. and international sanctions had on the regime? Please join us for a special lunch briefing with Marvin Feuer and Brad Gordon, AIPAC's co-directors of Policy and Government Affairs, who will address these and other questions." (See the 9/9/11 edition of the Round-Up for a review of the relationship between AIEF and AIPAC.)

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