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APN Legislative Round-Up - May 2, 2008

I. Bills and Resolutions; II. Dear Colleagues; III. Israel at 60 Tributes

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending May 2, 2008

I.  Bills and Resolutions
II. Dear Colleagues
III. Israel at 60 Tributes


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I. BILLS, RESOLUTIONS
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(SEEDS OF PEACE) S. Res. 536: Introduced 4/28/08 by Sen. Collins (R-ME) and 10 cosponsors, "recognizing the 15th anniversary of the founding of Seeds of Peace, an organization promoting understanding, reconciliation, acceptance, coexistence, and peace in the Middle East, South Asia, and other regions of conflict." Passed by the Senate 4/28/08 by unanimous consent. (SEEDS OF PEACE) H. Con. Res. 337: Introduced 4/29/08 by Rep. Allen (D-ME) and 47 cosponsors, "Honoring Seeds of Peace for its 15th anniversary as an organization promoting understanding, reconciliation, acceptance, coexistence, and peace in the Middle East, South Asia, and other regions of conflict." On 4/30/08 the House Foreign Affairs Committee agreed to seek consideration of the measure under suspension of the rules. (ARAB MEDIA) H. Res. 1127: Introduced 4/22/08 by Rep. Ackerman (D-NY) and 27 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." On 4/30/08 the House Foreign Affairs Committee agreed to seek consideration of the measure under suspension of the rules.

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II. DEAR COLLEAGUES
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(IRAN) On 5/1/08, Senators Coleman (R-MN) and Bayh (D-IN) began circulating a Dear Colleague seeking co-signers on a letter to Secretary Rice opposing a new U.S.-Russia bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement at the present time, "given Moscow's failure to cooperate on thwarting Iran's nuclear gambit." The letter appears to be an indirect attack on a number of Senators who are opposing S. 970, the Iran Counterterrorism Act, at least in part due to its implications for U.S.-Russia relations (other Senators are opposing the measure for other reasons). While the letter to Rice does not explicitly mention the legislation, the Dear Colleague accompanying the letter notes that "The House has already overwhelmingly passed legislation (H.R. 1400) in opposition to this move, and there are 71 co-sponsors to Senate bill 970 which also expresses opposition to enhanced nuclear cooperation with Russia absent more help on Iran. Senators Coleman and Bayh believe preventing Iran from acquiring the capacity to make nuclear weapons must have highest priority, and that desirable nuclear cooperation with Russia must be subordinate to this larger objective."  S. 970, it should be recalled, was introduced 3/22/07 by Sen. Smith (R-OR), and has since then has been one of the centerpieces of AIPAC's Capitol Hill agenda (for details, including APN's statement in opposition to the bills, see previous issues of the Round-Up, including the 4/13/07edition).  Recently, pressure on Senators to pass S. 970 has remerged after a period of relative quiet on the issue. On 4/8/08 the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the bill, at which a number of Senators, including co-sponsors of S. 970, stated or implied that they had concerns about the bill -- including over the provisions impacting U.S.-Russia relations -- and that they believed the bill needed to be "tweaked" (indeed, one of the two outside witnesses testifying in support of the bill explicitly conceded, during questioning, that the bill probably needed to be "tweaked").  On April 1, 2008, AIPAC issued a new memo in support of the bill (prepared, one might guess, in anticipation of the 4/8/08 hearing on the bill in the Senate Finance Committee). This memo can be viewed at: http://aipac.org/Publications/AIPACAnalysesFAQs/FAQs_-_The_Importance_of_the_Iran_Counter-Proliferation_Act.pdf

(SETTLEMENTS) On 5/1/08, Reps. Kucinich (D-OH) and Hinchey (D-NY) circulated a Dear Colleague seeking co-signers on a letter to Secretary Rice applauding "your recent statement, following your meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that '[s]ettlement activity should stop--expansion should stop,'" and commending "this sensible approach." The letter urges the Administration to stand firm on this policy and notes that Rice's continued emphasis on halting settlement activity is critical to ongoing peace negotiations.."

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III. ISRAEL AT 60 TRIBUTES
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Knollenberg (R-MI), 5/1/08
Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), 4/30/08
Davis (D-CA), 4/30/08
McHugh (R-NY), 5/1/08
Schiff (D-CA), 4/25/08
Al Green (D-TX), 4/29/08


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