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Legislative Roundup - December 16, 2005

I. Hyde/Capps Dear Colleague II. H. Res. 575 III. APN on H. Res. 575 IV. Bills and Resolutions V. Rice letter cosigners

for the week ending December 16, 2005

I. Hyde/Capps Dear Colleague
II. H. Res. 575
III. APN on H. Res. 575
IV. House Stealth Attack on Egypt
V. Bills and Resolutions
VI. Rice letter cosigners

I. HYDE/CAPPS DEAR COLLEAGUE =============================

The Hyde/Capps Dear Colleague discussed in previous edition of the Round-Up wrapped up at close of business on December 14th, boasting 108 signers - the largest number of signers on a constructive, pro-peace initiative in memory. The list includes:

- 20 Republicans

- 9 Jewish members: Lantos (D-CA), Frank (D- MA), Schiff (D-CA), Harman (D-CA), Davis (D- CA), Schakowsky (D-IL), Israel (D-NY), Emanuel (D-IL), and Filner (D-CA) - 18 members of the House International Relations Committee, including both the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member (Hyde, R-IL, and Lantos, D-CA), and the second most senior Republican (Leach, R-IA)

- A number of Chairs and Ranking Members of other key House Committees: the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee (King, R- NY); the Ranking Minority Member of the House Appropriations Committee (Obey, D-WI); and the Ranking Minority Member of the Select Intelligence Committee (Harman, D-CA)

- the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (Emanuel, D-IL), and Democratic Steering Committee Co- Chairs DeLauro (D-CT) and Miller (D-CA)

The full list of signers is included in section IV, below.

II. H. Res. 575

On December 14th, H. Res. 575 was brought to the House floor under suspension of the rules - i.e., it was brought directly to the House floor, rather than going through the normal committee process, which would have provided an opportunity for members to debate and amend it. While passage of the resolution is certain, it was postponed after Rep. McCaul (R-TX) demanded a roll call vote, rather than allowing the measure to pass by a voice vote. This tactic is used to ensure that all House members take a position, on the record, on the measure. The roll call vote on H. Res. 575 is scheduled to take place late on December 16th.

As reported in the Dec. 2nd edition of the Round-Up, H. Res. 575 seeks to put President Abbas, the Palestinian Authority, and the Palestinian people on notice that if Hamas is permitted to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, there will be dire consequences to the U.S.-Palestinian relationship. Coming to the House floor barely a month before the scheduled elections, when Hamas participation is by now a foregone conclusion, the purpose of the resolution appears to be less about issuing a constructive warning, and more about laying the groundwork for future sanctions against the Palestinian Authority and future attacks on U.S. aid to the West Bank and Gaza (which is already forbidden by law to go to the PA unless the President issues a special waiver of restrictions).

Floor statements made by supporters of the resolution left little room for doubt over the ultimate purpose of the initiative.

Rep. Lantos (D-CA): "Mr. Speaker, even if Abu Mazen does not heed our advice, this resolution sends a powerful message to all the Palestinian people. The United States will have no interest in dealing with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas. Abu Mazen and his colleagues will have to keep that in mind when they form their cabinet. Moreover, the inclusion of Hamas representatives in the government of the Palestinian Authority will have a profound effect on the attitude of the United States, both our government and the American people, toward Palestinians. It will inform every decision that this body makes regarding any issue related to the Palestinians, including economic assistance..."

Rep. Cantor (R-VA) - the primary sponsor of the resolution: "...As President Bush has said so often to the nations of the world, you are either with us or you are against us. In the United States we do not tolerate the terrorists or those who support them. This standard should and does apply to the Palestinian Authority..."

Rep. McCaul (R-TX) - a primary cosponsor of the resolution: "...The United States has a longstanding policy of not dealing with or making concessions to terrorists. We do not negotiate, we do not trade with, and we do not fund terrorists. Therefore, there is no diplomacy to be had with terrorists, and the Palestinian Authority will be a terrorist government if Hamas candidates are elected..."

III. APN on H. Res. 575

APN sent talking points to all members of the House of Representatives, entitled "H. Res. 575 - Missing the Point on Both Democracy and Hamas." These talking points were entered into the Congressional Record on December 14th, in their entirety, by Rep. Kucinich (D-OH):

Later today H. Res. 575 is scheduled to come to a vote on the House floor. This resolution deals with the participation of Hamas in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections, scheduled for January 25, 2006. Americans for Peace Now (APN) rejects terror and has consistently called on President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to undertake meaningful, sustained action to stop terrorists and destroy terrorist infrastructure. APN agrees that the Palestinian Authority must establish "One Authority, One Law, and One Gun."

However, APN believes that this resolution misses the point on both democracy and Hamas.

APN urges Members, whether or not they vote for the resolution, to speak out during the floor debate and to submit statements for the record drawing attention to the problems with this resolution.


- Nobody (except the terrorists) is happy with the prospect of Hamas and other terrorist organizations participating in Palestinian elections. Likewise, few people are happy that Hizballah is an active participant in Lebanon's political process, including a longstanding presence in its parliament and government. Likewise, few people are happy with the participation of armed militias in elections in Iraq.

- In the cases of Lebanon and Iraq, however, the decision has been to "not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good." The goal of eradicating terror and consolidating weapons in the hands of the legal government remains, but the elections were applauded and the process of democratization was not put on hold. Nobody argued that eradicating terror and establishing "one gun" should, in these cases, be a prerequisite for democratic elections, or threatened that if it was not made a prerequisite, the U.S. relationship with the resulting democratically elected body--and U.S. assistance to its people--would suffer.

- President Abbas is trying to do in the territories what the U.S. has encouraged the government to do in Iraq: absorb militias into the official armed forces in order to make them accountable to official command and control.

- Israel spent nearly three decades trying to defeat Hamas through military means alone, and failed. Since coming to power less than a year ago, President Abbas has made a very public commitment to take on Hamas and other terrorist organizations after elections--a strategy based on the reasonable assertion that, backed by a democratically-elected parliament, he will have the strength and credibility to move forward with this difficult task. He should be held to this commitment.

- The reduction of terror against Israeli citizens requires the containment and eventual dismantling of militias, including Hamas. Israeli General (Ret.) Ephraim Sneh, who served as military governor of the West Bank and Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, recently stated:

"Under current conditions in the Palestinian territories, especially given the Palestinian government's weakness, political containment should precede the dismantling of Hamas's military infrastructure. The urgent objective is to defeat it in the next parliamentary elections. Steps that could strengthen it in the elections should be strictly avoided. Attempts to postpone the elections yet again, or to prevent Hamas's participation, or Israeli disruption of the elections as 'punishment' for the participation of Hamas, will strengthen Hamas in the Palestinian street instead of weakening it. The short time left before the elections must be used to empower all who oppose Hamas, first and foremost the supporters of the elected Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas." (Washington Post, October 19, 2005)

- In the countdown to the elections, for the sake of democracy and peace in the Middle East--vital components to Israel's security- -the focus should be on strengthening Palestinian moderates, including President Abbas. Actions that risk elevating the status of Hamas and other extremists should be avoided.

- After the January 25th election, Israel, the Bush Administration, and the international community--as well as the Palestinian people--should hold President Abbas to his commitment, and hold him accountable if he fails to take action.

IV. HOUSE STEALTH ATTACK ON EGYPT ===================================

Two resolutions have been introduced in the House this session dealing with Egyptian elections - H. Con. Res. 279 (introduced Oct. 26th) and H. Con Res. 284 (introduced Oct. 27th). Both include language supportive of progress toward real democracy in that country, and critical of deficiencies in efforts thus far. The general thrust of both resolutions is that positive steps toward democracy should be recognized but more needs to be done.

On November 16th the House International Relations Committee approved H. Con. Res. 284 by unanimous consent, as part of part of a group of resolutions approved en bloc.

Now, with no warning or public debate, H. Con. Res. 284 has been substantially re-written and reportedly will be taken to the House floor under suspension of the rules in the coming days. The new version of the resolution - which will not be available publicly until it is introduced on the House floor - is essentially a condemnation of the recent elections and of the Government of Egypt.

In addition, it includes language - similar to language introduced in recent years in other bills and resolutions - that challenges (and implicitly threatens) the existing U.S.-Egypt relationship. It urges the President to take into account Egypt's progress toward dealing with the many criticisms enumerated in the resolution when determining "the type and nature of United States diplomatic engagement with the Government of Egypt" and "the type and level of assistance to be requested [by the Administration in its annual budget submission to Congress] for the Government of Egypt."

The new version of the resolution raises important concerns about and proposes harsh consequences to one of America's most important allies. It would seem that such a measure would merit serious scrutiny and debate. Instead, it appears that the resolution is set to move forward as a stealth measure, pushed through in the final hours of the 109th Congress. The resolution does not yet appear on the suspension calendar, so there is no public awareness that it is coming up. Moreover, even when it does appear, it will appear with the original resolution number and title (and the new text will not be available until it is introduced on the floor). This will leave most Members under the impression that they will be voting on the version passed by the Committee, rather than on potentially controversial language that has been subject to no public scrutiny or debate.


(PALESTINIANS) H. Res. 575: raised under under suspension of the rules on December 14th; roll call vote postponed until late on December 16th. See section I, above, for details.

(LEBANON) H. Res. 598: Introduced December 14th by Rep. Issa (D-CA) and cosponsored by Ackerman (D-NY), Lantos (D-CA), and Wexler (D-FL), "Condemning the actions by the Government of Syria that have hindered the investigation of the assassination of former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri conducted by the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIC), expressing support for extending the UNIIC's mandate, and stating concern about similar assassination attempts apparently aimed at destabilizing Lebanon's security and undermining Lebanon's sovereignty. Brought up on December 14th under suspension of the rules; vote postponed until late on December 16th.

(IRAN) H. Res. 601: Introduced December 14th by Rep. Cole (R-OK) and 33 cosponsors, "Condemning in the strongest terms Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hateful rhetoric directed toward Israel." Referred to the House International Relations Committee.


The following is the final list of cosigners on the Hyde-Capps letter to Secretary of State Rice (a total of 108).

Allen (D-ME) Baird (D-WA) Baldwin (D-WI) Becerra (D-CA) Biggert (R-IL) Bilirakis (R-FL) Blumenauer (D-OR) Boehlert (R-NY) Burton (R-IN) Butterfield (D-NC) Capps (D-CA) Capuano (D-MA) Carnahan (D-MO) Chandler (D-KY) Conyers (D-MI) Davis (D-AL) Davis (D-CA) Davis (D-IL) DeFazio (D-OR) Delahunt (D-MA) DeLauro (D-CT) Dingell (D-MI) Doggett (D-TX) Duncan (R-TN) Emanuel (D-IL) Etheridge (D-NC) Farr (D-CA) Filner (D-CA) Frank (D-MA) Green (D-TX) Grijalva (D-AZ) Harman (D-CA) Hinchey (D-NY) Holden (D-PA) Holt (D-NJ) Honda (D-CA) Hyde (R-IL) Inslee (D-WA) Israel (D-NY) Issa (R-CA) Jackson Jr. (D-IL) Jackson-Lee (D-TX) Jefferson (D-LA) Johnson (R-CT) Johnson (R-IL) Kaptur (D-OH) Kennedy (D-RI) Kildee (D-MI) Kilpatrick (D-MI) Kind (D-WI) King (R-NY) Kucinich (D-OH) LaHood (R-IL) Langevin (D-RI) Lantos (D-CA) Larsen (D-WA) Leach (R-IA) Lee (D-CA) Lewis (D-GA) Lungren (R-CA) Lynch (D-MA) Maloney (D-NY) Manzullo (R-IL) Markey (D-MA) Matsui (D-CA) McCarthy (D-NY) McCollum (D-MN) McDermott (D-WA) McGovern (D-MA) Meek (D-FL) Meeks (D-NY) Michaud (D-ME) Millender-McDonald (D-CA) Miller, Gary (R-CA) Miller, George (D-CA) Moore (D-KS) Moore (D-WI) Moran (D-VA) Murphy (R-PA) Napolitano (D-CA) Neal (D-MA) Obey (D-WI) Olver (D-MA) Pascrell (D-NJ) Pastor (D-AZ) Payne (D-NJ) Pomeroy (D-ND) Price (D-NC) Rangel (D-NY) Rohrabacher (R-CA) Roybal-Allard (D-CA) Sabo (D-MN) Sanchez (D-CA) Sanchez (D-CA) Schakowsky (D-IL) Schiff (D-CA) Shaw (R-FL) Shays (R-CT) Shimkus (R-IL) Smith (D-WA) Snyder (D-AR) Solis (D-CA) Stark (D-CA) Tanner (D-TN) Udall (D-CO) Velazquez (D-NY) Visclosky (D-IN) Woolsey (D-CA)

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