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Government Relations: November 2012 Archives

Legislative Round-Up: week ending November 30, 2012

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  NDAA Amendments Target Palestinians, UN, and More
3.  Responses to UNGA vote
4.  Hearings
5.  Members on the Record  
6.  From the Press

Examining the 3 Palestinian-Punishment Focused Efforts in the Senate

As of this writing, three initiatives have been introduced in the Senate over the past 18 hours or so aimed at punishing the Palestinians (and others) for the current Palestinian initiative at the UN.  All have been in the form of amendments to S. 3245, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- a piece of must-pass legislation that happens to be under consideration in the Senate right now (making it a prime target for opportunistic legislative riders). 

These amendments were offered, notwithstanding the fact that there is nothing related to funding or programs for the Palestinians or the United Nations in the NDAA.  

The amendments are: SA 3139, SA 3171 and SA 3203. SA 3139 and SA 3171 are partisan (supported only by Republicans) and, in their substance and drafting, pretty ham-fisted.  SA 3203 is also pretty ham-fisted, but it is bipartisan and could be viewed as more "reasonable" and "moderate" than the other two amendments, and in effect is more broadly consistent with the tone that Israel is increasingly taking (i.e., that the UN vote to upgrade the Palestinians' status isn't really important; what is really important is what happens next).  It thus seems likely that the real action on this issue will be around SA 3203.  In that context, the other two amendments play a useful role in making SA 3203 look measured and "reasonable" by comparison.

Another NDAA amendment to punish the UN for upgrading Palestinian Status

On the heels of the introduction of the Barrasso-Lee-Inhofe amendment to the NDAA that seeks to impose sanctions on the Palestinians for seeking any upgrade in status at the UN (as well as on any UN agency that votes to do so, or any UN member nation that votes to do so), now comes another amendment that adopts, basically, the nuclear option.   If passed into law, this NDAA amendment would bar all U.S. funding to the United Nations in the event that the UNGA votes to upgrade the status of the Palestinians in any manner whatsoever. 

The amendment was introduced by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Roberts (R-KS), Chambliss (R-GA), Barrasso (R-WY), Inhofe (R-OK), Wicker (R-MI), Lee (R-UT), Coburn (R-OK), Risch (R-ID), and Rubio (R-FL).  The text can be viewed here.

Senators Introduce First Effort to Punish Palestinians over UN

The first shot has been fired in the much-anticipated Congressional battle to punish the Palestinians for seeking to upgrade their status at the UN - and to also punish any UN agencies and any countries that support them.

The vehicle for this attack is S. 3254 - the highly contentious National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate is now considering.   For those who keep track of these sorts of things, there is NOTHING in the NDAA that in any way relates to the Palestinians.  No funding, no programs - nothing.  But that hasn't stopped Senators Barrasso (R-WY), Lee (R-UT), and Inhofe (R-OK) from introducing an amendment whose purpose is defined as "To provide for restrictions on foreign assistance related to the status of the Palestinian mission to the United Nations."  A copy of the amendment, which was filed this afternoon, is available here.  Senator Barrasso's press release touting introduction of the amendment is available here.

Open Zion: APN's Lara Friedman - The Senate On Gaza


In response to the ongoing Gaza-Israel war, Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kirk (R-IL) this afternoon circulated a resolution that they reportedly hope to have the Senate pass by unanimous consent, possibly as early as this evening. The resolution subject:

expressing vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizing and strongly supporting its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism.

APN Congratulates President Obama on his Reelection


Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) today sent the following letter to President Barack Obama, congratulating him on his reelection: