GIF Legislation Tracker

2019
September 26, 2019

Rep. Latta (R-OH0511) Introduces H. Res. 597

Congressman Robert Latta (R-OH05) introduced a bill citing the recent attacks on the Abqaiq oil facilities as the primary reason to support access to all domestic energy sources so that the United States can achieve full energy security.

The bill mentions how in 2018 9% of all petroleum imports were from KSA, and also mentions the out-size role of the geopolitics of OPEC states in influencing energy markets.

September 26, 2019

Rep. Connolly (D-VA11) Introduces H.R. 4507

Congressman Gerald Connolly (D-VA11) introduced a bill that would prohibit arms sales to Saudi Arabia for 120 days, investigate whether Saudi intelligence officials intimidate or harass Saudi nationals in the United States, close Saudi facilities being used to surveil Saudi nationals, and review U.S. intelligence to determine if it fulfilled its duty to warn Jamal Khashoggi of the potential threats he faced.

September 17, 2019

Senate Confirms U.S. Ambassador to UAE

The United States Senate confirmed Mr. John Rakolta to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates in a 63Y to 30N vote. Mr. Rakolta was first nominated for the post by President Trump in March 2018 and has been vacant since.

September 17, 2019

Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) Introduces S. 2493

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced a bill that would establish the Malign Foreign Influence Response Center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The legislation lists Iran as one of four countries that have attempted, or are attempting, to enact foreign influence campaigns against the United States.

September 13, 2019

Senator Rubio Sends Letter concerning Bahrain

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) led a group of Senators in sending a letter to President Trump raising awareness of “Bahrain’s worsening human rights record and the implications for U.S. security.” The letter mentions the cases of high-profile jailed opposition leaders including Nabeel Rajab, Sheikh Ali Salman, Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and Dr. Aduljalil Al Singace. The letter was co-signed by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CN) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

September 12, 2019

Senate Committee Approves Amdt. to S.2474

An amendment proposed by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CN) amending the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 (S.2474) was approved in a voice vote by the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

If passed, the amendment would prohibit U.S. support for the Arab Coalition in Yemen until the Secretary of Defense can certify that U.S. – manufactured weapons are not being transferred to Yemeni proxy groups.

September 10, 2019

Congressional Delegation visits Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman

Just prior to the Senate returning to Washington D.C. after the August recess, Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Todd Young (R-IN) took part in a Congressional Delegation that visited Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman.

Notable from the trip was a meeting between the two Senators and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during which King and Young reportedly questioned the ruler concerning the October 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Of his thoughts on the incident after the meeting Senator King shared, “The people involved have to be held accountable and I think he has to take on some level of responsibility, whether or not he gave the order.”

July 31, 2019

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) Introduces S. 2351

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced a bill to ‘promote Human Rights and Accountability in Saudi Arabia.’ The bill is the Senate version of Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (D-NJ07) H.R. 2037 which passed the House on July 15, 2019.

If enacted the bill would require the Department of State to release a report on human rights in Saudi Arabia, as well as potentially apply sanctions to Saudi actors responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

July 30, 2019

Senator Van Hollen Introduces S. 2338

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced a bill that would impose strict nonproliferation conditions on the U.S. import-export bank, so as to ensure that tax-payer dollars do not finance the production of a Saudi-made nuclear weapon. The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Jerry Moran (R-KS)

July 29, 2019

Senate Fails to Override Veto Concerning U.S. – Saudi/UAE Arms Sales

The Senate’s efforts, that began on June 5th, to block an impending sale of weapons to the UAE and Saudi Arabia ended when the Senate failed to reach the 60 vote threshold to overturn President Trump’s veto. The sales are now expected to proceed.

July 25, 2019

Foreign Relations Committee Advances S. 398 (13Y-19N)

Today, at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a bill originally put forth by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) on February 7th, 2019 was advanced by a bipartisan group of Senators. If enacted the bill would place sanctions on individuals deemed responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and terminate arms-sales to Saudi Arabia.

July 25, 2019

Senator Risch (R-ID) Withdrawals S. 2066

After the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved amendments to Senator Risch’s bill that would curb U.S. – Saudi Weapons sales, the Senator chose to withdrawal the bill from consideration. The bill was originally introduced on July 9th, 2019 and if enacted would place visa travel restrictions on members of the Saudi royal family.

July 25, 2019

Foreign Relations Committee Advances Nomination (15Y-7N)

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the nomination of John Rakolta to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. The vote passed the committee by a 15Y-7N margin, with Senators Murphy (D-CN) and Coons (D-DE) joining their Republican colleagues. Next, the nomination will be considered by the full Senate.

July 25, 2019

Rep. Clay (D-MO01) Introduces H. Res 524

Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO01) introduced a bill to call on the UAE to end alleged human rights violations against political prisoners and prisoners of free speech.

July 24, 2019

President Trump Vetoes Bills Meant to Block Arms Sales to UAE & Saudi Arabia

After having passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives, President Donald Trump vetoed three measures that sought to disapprove of impending weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The collection of bills were originally introduced on June 5th, 2019. Up next, the Congress will likely attempt to override the veto, however, it is not expected that there are the votes to do so.

July 17, 2019

House Passes 22 Resolutions Related to Saudi Weapons Sales (237Y-190N & 238Y-190N)

In two separate votes the House of Representatives passed a collection of Saudi and Emirati arms sales disapprovals that had been passed by the Senate on June 20, 2019. The bills were originally introduced on June 5, 2019. Next, the bills will go to President Trump, who is expected to veto the measures.

July 16, 2019

Rep. Barbara Lee Introduces H. Res 495

Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA13) introduced a resolution urging President Trump to re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement. Additionally, the bill calls on President Trump to pursue diplomatic efforts to reduce ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

July 15, 2019

House Passes H.R 2037 (407Y-7N)

The United States House of Representatives Passed H.R 2037. The bill was introduced on April 2, 2019 and, if enacted, instructs the Director of National Intelligence to produce a report outlining the actors responsible for last October’s murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Upon completion of the report, the bill instructs that sanctions related to visas and travel to the United States be placed on those found responsible in the report. The bill allows for these sanctions to be lifted if and when Saudi Arabia exhibits improvement in several areas related to human rights.

July 15, 2019

House Passes H.Res 129 (Voice Vote)

In a ‘voice vote,’ the House of Representatives has passed a bill condemning Saudi Arabia’s treatment of imprisoned female activists.

The bill, introduced on February 13th, 2019 found its impetus in the allegations that at least ten women are currently being detained and experiencing torture in Saudi Arabia. The bill mentions by name, Hatoon al-Fassi, Aziza al-Yousef and Loujain al-Hathloul.

July 10, 2019

Rep. Bilirakis Introduces H. Res. 482

Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL12) introduced a bill to state that it is the House of Representatives’ official position to promote peace amongst the Gulf Cooperation Council member states.

The explanatory section of the bill lists a variety of reasons as to why a unified GCC is an important ally of the United States, including: the bloc’s “stabilizing force” against Iran, and its assistance in defeating ISIS.

Additionally, the bill goes on to stress the importance of ending the Gulf Crisis due to the rift having undermined Middle Eastern Security.

The bipartisan resolution is co-sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY12) and

July 9, 2019

Senator Risch (R-ID) Introduces S. 2066

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) introduced a bill ‘to review United States Saudi Arabia Policy.’

Content of the bill has yet to be fully elaborated upon by Senator Risch’s office, however the politics surrounding the bill are already notable given that the Senator is a frequent ally of President Trump and therefore must write a bill that is acceptable to a President who rejected calls to blame the Saudi Government for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and a Congressional majority comprised of Senate Democrats and a few crossover Republicans who continue to seek an acceptable way to reprimand the Kingdom for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

According to reporting from Politico, Senator Risch’s bill will be an attempt to forge a solution that can pass Congress and be signed by the President

July 2, 2019

Senate Calls for Investigation

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, seeking clarification as to reports that weapons sold by the U.S. to the UAE ended up in the hands of General Haftar’s Libyan National Army. Specifically, the letter mentions the UAE’s alleged transfer of ‘javelin’ anti-armor missiles to these Libyan actors.

The letter calls on the State Department’s Inspector General to determine the veracity of these reports, and if this breach in law constitutes a reason to terminate weapons sales to the UAE.

July 2, 2019

June 2019 Review

June 28, 2019

Rep. Lofgren Introduces H. Con. Res. 51

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA19) introduced a bill calling on President Trump to respect the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution. The clause pertains to the receiving of foreign gifts and foreign corruption.

As evidence of potential violations of this clause the bill cites leases at Trump properties by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq that have occurred during his Presidency. Specifically, the bill references a $270,000 bill paid for a lobbying firm by Saudi Arabia at a Trump property in Washington, D.C.

June 27, 2019

Senator Tom Cotton Introduces S. Con. Res. 21

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AS) introduced a bill condemning the human rights violations of the Houthi rebels in Yemen, particularly their cooperation with Iranian supporters.

The bill is unique given it follows months of legislation on Capitol Hill targeting the humanitarian consequences of Saudi Arabia’s actions. In contrast, Senator Cotton’s bill depicts Saudi Arabia as a victim, calling on the Senate to condemn Houthi attacks on Saudi civilian infrastructure and personnel. Additionally, the bill condemns the financial, moral and logistic support given to the Houthis by Iran and Iranian actors.

June 27, 2019

Rep. Speier (D-CA14) Introduces H. Res 472

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA14) introduced a bill calling on the President to strongly condemn the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, as well as the imprisonment of and violence against journalists worldwide. Additionally, the bill calls on the President to ‘hold accountable’ the actors responsible for Khashoggi’s killing.

June 27, 2019

Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX23) Introduces H. Con. Res. 50

Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX23) introduced a bill condemning the human rights violations of the Houthi rebels in Yemen, particularly their cooperation with Iranian supporters.

The bill is unique given it follows months of legislation on Capitol Hill targeting the humanitarian consequences of Saudi Arabia’s actions. In contrast, Rep. Hurd’s bill depicts Saudi Arabia as a victim, calling on the House to condemn Houthi attacks on Saudi civilian infrastructure and personnel. Additionally, the bill condemns the financial, moral and logistic support given to the Houthis by Iran and Iranian actors.

June 26, 2019

House Foreign Affairs Committee Marks Up H.R. 2037

On June 26th, 2019 the House Foreign Affairs Committee considered Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (D-NJ07) “Saudi Arabia and Human Rights Accountability Act of 2019.”

The bill was introduced on April 2, 2019 and, if enacted, instructs the Director of National Intelligence to produce a report outlining the actors responsible for last October’s murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Upon completion of the report, the bill instructs that sanctions related to visas and travel to the United States be placed on those found responsible in the report.

The bill allows for these sanctions to be lifted if and when Saudi Arabia exhibits improvement in several areas related to human rights.

June 25, 2019

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Advances S. 1945

The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee advanced a bill by voice vote from Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Informally titled the ‘SAFE’ (Saudi Arabia False Emergencies) act, the bill seeks to close the loophole utilized by President Trump to bypass Congressional review of arms sales by declaring an ‘emergency.’

If passed, the bill would make it so the ‘emergency’ provision of the Arms Export Control Act could only apply to NATO allies, Australia, Israel, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Although the bill does have bipartisan support from Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT), the bill may not receive a floor vote due to opposition from Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) and other Republican leaders.

June 24, 2019

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) Introduces Amendment 0842 (S. 1790)

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced an amendment to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that would use frozen Iranian assets to cover the cost of the American drone shot down by Iran on June 20th, 2019. Reports put the overall cost of the drone at $110 million USD.

June 20, 2019

Senate Passes 22 Resolutions Blocking Saudi Weapons Sale (51Y-45N)

On June 20, 2019 the Senate, in three separate measures, voted to block an impending sale of weapons that has been expedited by the Trump Administration.

On June 5th, 2019 upon notification that the Administration would seek to circumvent Congress, Senator Menendez (D-NJ) introduced 22 separate privileged resolutions seeking to block the sale.

Instead of voting on each bill separately, Senator Mitchel McConnell (R-KY) and Menendez agreed to vote on the bills in three packages.

Each of votes resulted in a 51Y-45N, with the ‘yays’ expressing disapproval of the sale. Next the bills will be voted on in the House of Representatives.

 

June 13, 2019

House Armed Service Committee Passes H.R 2500 (33Y-24N)

On June 13th, 2019 the House Armed Services Committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal Year 2020. Next the bill will be considered by the full house. The bill had originally been introduced on May 2nd.

Included within the annual bill is an appropriation of up to $53,360,000 for Navy Construction projects in Bahrain, presumably for the Naval Support Activity base on the island.

Additionally, the bill includes a $1,045,000,000 overseas contingency appropriation for the “Counter Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Train and Equip” fund.

On June 14th, 2019 it was announced that a bill from the 115th Congress (H.R. 608 “Stop Arming Terrorists Act”) has been included in the version of H.R. 2500 forwarded by the committee.

June 13, 2019

Senate Rejects S.J. Res 20 (43Y-56N)

The Senate rejected a motion to discharge S.J Res 26 from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a 43Y-56N margin, with the “nays” being in favor of allowing the sale to proceed. This means the sale will not be blocked by the Senate.

The bill was introduced on  May 13, 2019 by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and sought to block an upcoming sale of U.S. weaponry to the nation of Bahrain.

The bill was in response to a recent sale approved by the State Department on May 6, 2019 that includes several types of missiles and technologies related to Bahrain’s obtaining of F-16 block 70 aircraft, as well as modifications to Bahrain’s F-16V. The deal itself is valued at $750 million USD.

June 13, 2019

Senate Rejects S.J Res 26 (42Y-57N)

The Senate rejected a motion to discharge S.J. Res 26 from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a 42Y-57N margin, with the “nays” being in favor of allowing the sale to proceed. This means the sale will not be blocked by the Senate.

The bill was introduced on May 14, 2019 by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and sought to block an upcoming sale of U.S. weaponry to the nation of Qatar.

The bill was in response to an arms sale to Qatar that was approved by the State Department on May 6, 2019. Among other items, the sale is set to include an order for 24 Apache attack helicopters, a transaction valued at $3 billion USD.

June 12, 2019

Rep. Lieu Introduces H.J Res 62

Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA33) introduced the House counterpart to a bill seeking to block 22 arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The introduction of the legislation was announced following a hearing in the United States House of Representatives concerning the Trump Administration’s decision to greenlight these weapons sales without Congressional oversight by invoking an ‘emergency declaration.’

A similar resolution is circulating in the Senate, which is likely to be voted on next and is expected to pass.

June 12, 2019

Rep. Spanberger Introduces H.J Res 64

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07) introduced a resolution that would specifically reject the transfer of U.S.-made weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE that utilize precision-guided munitions. The bill targets some of the 22 weapons transfers approved by the Trump Administration under his Congress-bypassing ‘emergency declaration.’

Congresswoman Spanberger is also a co-sponsor of legislation seeking to prevent each of these sales.

June 12, 2019

Rep. Cicilline Introduces H.J Res 61

Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI01) introduced a resolution that would reject the sale of certain precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia.

The bill is similar to legislation introduced on the same day by Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07) and Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA33)

June 10, 2019

Senator Murphy Introduces S. Res 243

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CN) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) introduced a bill invoking a section of the  Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to require the Secretary of State to produce a report detailing the human rights practices of Saudi Arabia in Yemen. The bill has privileged status, which means the Senators can force actions related to the bill if the Foreign Relations Committee refuses to act.

Following the report’s deliverance to Congress, the bill also makes it so that Murphy and Young could force a vote on the overall U.S. – Saudi security relationship, with the ultimate goal of blocking a slew of impending arms sales.

June 5, 2019

Sen. Menendez Introduces 22 Arms Sales-Related Resolutions

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced 22 separate resolutions seeking to block arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and the UAE that had been approved by the Trump Administration. The introduction of the resolutions comes after the Trump Administration attempted to bypass the authority given to the Senate by the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) to have 30 days to review all foreign U.S. arms sales. In order to do this, the Administration invoked “emergency authority,” a provision within the act that allows for the expedition of a sale. The resolutions appear to have bipartisan support, with co-sponsors including Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). It is not entirely clear why separate resolutions were introduced for different aspects of the sale, however an additional provision of the AECA allows for these resolutions of disapproval to have ‘privileged status,’ meaning that the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee can force votes for each bill on the floor, without Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) having the opportunity to keep these measures from the Senate.

 

May 30, 2019

Rep. Gabbard Introduces H. Res 411

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI02) introduced a bill seeking to classify Presidential pursuits of war (without approval from Congress) as qualifying for the ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ definition of an impeachable offense.

While the bill does not mention any country by name, on June 17th, 2019 Congresswoman Gabbard stated at a campaign stop that the bill is meant as a safeguard against what she implied was President Trump’s illegal war with Iran.

Congresswoman Gabbard is a candidate for the Democratic Nomination for President in 2020.

May 24, 2019

President Trump Notifies Congress

President Donald Trump notified Congressional officials that he intends to use an overlooked window in the Arms Export Control Act, to guarantee the sale of precision-guided missiles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates without the usually-required Congressional approval.

May 22, 2019

Senate Amendment Fails (9Y-13N)

On May 22, 2019 Senators Chris Murphy (D-CN) and Tom Udall (D-NM) forced a vote on an amendment to a bill that would restrict the President from using unapproved Congressional funds to finance military actions against Iran. Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously in favor of the amendment, however, with only one aisle-crossing Republican vote from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), the measure failed.

The failure to pass the amendment comes just a day after the House of Representatives passed Rep. Barbara Lee’s (R-TX13) amendment to overturn Authorization of the Use of Military Force Acts, in a similar goal of inhibiting the President’s options to go to war with Iran.

May 22, 2019

H. Res 129 Proceeds from Committee

After having been introduced to the House Foreign Affairs Committee by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL21) on February 13, 2019, a bill to express U.S. disapproval of the detention of Saudi women’s rights activists has unanimously been approved by the committee for consideration by the full House of Representatives.

 

May 21, 2019

House Appropriations Passes Rep. Lee Amendment (30Y-22N)

The House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-TX13) to the 2020 Defense Appropriations Act (H.R 2839). The amendment pertains to the Authorization of the Use of Military Force Act of 2001 (AUMF) that allowed the President to go to war in Iraq. The amendment overrides the 2001 version of the AUMF, out of concerns that the authorization may too broadly allow the President to go to war with Iran. If the bill becomes law, the legislation gives Congress 8 months to develop a new AUMF. Up next, the full 2020 Defense Appropriations Act will be voted on by the full House of Representatives.

May 16, 2019

Rep. Pence (R-IN06) Introduces H.R 2790

Congressman Greg Pence (R-IN06) introduced the House iteration of a bill that seeks to make available Iranian financial assets to compensate American victims of Iranian terrorism. The bill specifically mentions those injured in the October 23, 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut.

The bill comes in the midst of a flurry of Congressional activity regarding Iran.

May 16, 2019

Senator Cotton (R-AR) Introduces S.1529

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced the Senate iteration of a bill that seeks to make available Iranian financial assets to compensate American victims of Iranian terrorism. The bill specifically mentions those injured in the October 23, 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut.

The bill comes in the midst of a flurry of Congressional activity regarding Iran.

May 15, 2019

Rep. Moulton Introduces H.J Res 58

Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA06) introduced a bill making it so that any engagement in hostilities with Iran would require congressional approval. The bill is similar to other measures currently circulating Congress and comes after days of ratcheting tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Seth Moulton is currently a candidate for the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 2020.

May 14, 2019

Senator Paul Introduces S.J Res 26

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a bill seeking to block an upcoming sale of U.S. weaponry to the nation of Qatar. The bill is in response to an arms sale to Qatar that was approved by the State Department on May 6, 2019. Among other items, the sale is set to include an order for 24 Apache attack helicopters, a transaction valued at $3 billion USD. The bill comes alongside two similar bills aimed at Bahrain and the UAE respectively, both of which seek to block recently approved weapons sales to these countries.

May 14, 2019

Senator Paul Introduces S.J Res 25

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a bill seeking to block an upcoming sale of U.S. weaponry to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The bill is seemingly in response to an arms sale to the UAE that was approved by the State Department on May 3, 2019. The potential sale includes several upgrades to various Patriot missile systems and is valued at $2.73 billion USD. The bill comes just one day after Sen. Paul introduced legislation seeking to block a similar sale to Bahrain.

May 13, 2019

Senator Paul Introduces S.J Res 20

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a bill seeking to block an upcoming sale of U.S. weaponry to the nation of Bahrain. The bill is most likely in reference to a recent sale approved by the State Department on May 6, 2019 that includes several types of missiles and technologies related to Bahrain’s obtaining of F-16 block 70 aircraft, as well as modifications to Bahrain’s F-16V. The deal itself is valued at $750 million USD. Last year Senator Paul tried to block a sale of weapons to Bahrain, however, his legislation did not pass.

 

May 10, 2019

Rep. McClintock (R-CA04) Introduces H. Res 374

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA04) introduced a bill that condemns the Iranian government’s sponsoring of terrorism, and declares the House of Representative’s support of pro-Democracy reformers in Iran.

The resolution calls on the United States to work with Europe to hold Iran accountable for ‘diplomatic breaches’ in the Balkan States, with the eventual goal of closing Iranian embassies, particularly in Albania. Simultaneously, the bill reiterates American support for Iranians working to establish a secular Democratic Republic.

May 8, 2019

Senator Cotton (D-AR) Introduces S. Res 195

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced a bill celebrating the anniversary of the U.S.’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The bill lists the perceived flaws of the Iran Nuclear Agreement, reiterates Congressional opposition to Iran ever acquiring a nuclear weapon and also states that it is the Senate’s position that Iran should not receive any sanctions relief. The bill is cosponsored by 12 Senate Republicans

May 7, 2019

Rep. Levin (D-MI09) Introduces H.R 2537

Congressman Andy Levin (D-MI09) introduced a bill extending the amount of time available to Iraqi nationals residing within the U.S. to have their cases heard in immigration court prior to deportation.

At a press conference, Congressman Levin told reporters, “Iraqi nationals with orders for removal must have the time it takes to have their cases heard individually in immigration court. Numerous Iraqi nationals, including many Chaldean Christians, will face persecution for their religion, their ethnicity or their ties to America if they are forced back to Iraq against their will. It is our duty to do everything we can to protect them.”

May 3, 2019

Rep. Smith (D-WA09) H.R 2500

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA09) introduced the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.

Included within the annual bill is an appropriation of up to $53,360,000 for Navy Construction projects in Bahrain, presumably for the Naval Support Activity base on the island.

Additionally, the bill includes a $1,045,000,000 overseas contingency appropriation for the “Counter Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Train and Equip” fund.

May 2, 2019

Senate Sustains Presidential Veto of S.J Res 7 (53Y-45N)

After having been vetoed by President Trump on April 16th, the Senate failed to override the Presidential veto of the Yemen War Powers Resolution by a 53Y-45N margin, with the ‘nays’ representing a supportive vote for the President.

In order to have overruled the veto, the Senate would have needed to muster a 2/3’s majority (67 ‘yay’ votes), a bar the Senate failed to achieve. The sustaining of this veto marks the end of several efforts to end U.S. support for the War in Yemen by invoking the War Powers Resolution. Although it achieved some historic legislative victories, it appears that for the time being U.S. support for the Arab Coalition in the war will continue

May 1, 2019

Rep. Lee (D-CA13) Introduces H.R 2456

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA13) introduced a bill to repeal the congressional authorizations that allowed the United States to initiate military action against Iraq in 2002.

Although primarily symbolic in nature, the bill comes after the introduction of similar Senate legislation by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) that sought to repeal military-force authorizations related to the wars against Iraq citing 1991 and 2003.

April 25, 2019

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA18) Introduces H.R 2354

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA18) introduced the House iteration of the “Prevention of Unconstitutional War With Iran Act,” a bill of which a version had previously been introduced in the Senate by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM).

The bill would limit the ability of the Executive Branch to engage in “kinetic” military operations against Iran. The bill cites past statements and tweets by the President that to some indicate a ratcheting of tensions between the Trump Administration and Iran. If passed, the bill would make it so that military operations in or against Iran only receive funding if approved by Congress.

April 19, 2019

Senators Send Letter to Ambassador Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan

On April 19, 2019 Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) on behalf of 16 other Senators sent a letter to Ambassador Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, the newly arriving Saudi Ambassador to the United States.

The letter broadly raises concern as to reports of the treatment of women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and specifically calls for the dismantling of the Guardianship System, as well as an end to the mistreatment of detained female activists.

All four female Senators running for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020 (Klobuchar, Warren, Gillibrand, Harris) signed the letter.

April 16, 2019

President Trump Vetoes S.J Res 7

A few days after the bill arrived from Congress, President Trump formally vetoed the War Powers Resolution seeking to curtail U.S. support to the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen. Justifying his position, Trump commented, “This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.”

April 11, 2019

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduces S. Res. 169

On April 11, 2019 Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a Senate Resolution condemning human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. As justification, the bill lists a series of recent controversies involving the Kingdom, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, detention of women activists, humanitarian consequences of the war in Yemen, criminalization of homosexuality and torture, among others.

The resolution invokes subsection (a)(2) of section 502b of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which iterates American security assistance should not be provided to nations that are suspected of such abuses.

The text of the bill directly blames Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

April 10, 2019

Senate (92Y-7N) Confirms General John Abizaid (Ret.) Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

On April 10th, 2019 the Senate confirmed General John Abizaid (Ret) to assume the position of United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The confirmation makes him the first U.S. Ambassador to Riyadh since President Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

April 10, 2019

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI06) Introduces H.J Res. 56

Representative Justin Amash (R-MI03) introduced legislation that would require President Trump to terminate U.S. Armed Forces’ support to the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen. The introduction of this legislation came on the same day Speaker Pelosi signed S.J Res 7, a bill invoking the War Powers Resolution in order to gain an identical end.

Unlike S.J Res 7, Rep. Amash’s bill does not invoke the War Powers Resolution.

April 10, 2019

Rep. Raul Ruiz Introduces H.R. 2880

Representative Raul Ruiz (D-CA36) introduced legislation to curtail illicit smuggling efforts directed by Iran. The legislation specifically seeks to allow for the U.S. to train authorities in nations that border the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, and the Mediterranean Sea so that they can deter the smuggling of Iranian weapons through these regions.

April 8, 2019

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX10) Introduces H.R 2118

Michael McCaul (R-TX10) introduces legislation that if passed would apply additional sanctions to Iran related to the nation’s ballistic missiles program and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The bill comes on the same day that President Donald Trump announced the IRGC’s categorization as a foreign terrorist organization.

April 4, 2019

Senate (54Y-46N) & House (247Y-176N) Pass S.J Res. 7

The United States House of Representatives passed S.J Res. 7, a previously passed Senate bill invoking the War Powers Resolution in order to curtail U.S. support for the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in the war in Yemen. This marks the first time in U.S. history that both legislative chambers passed the same iteration of a War Powers Resolution. The bill’s passage came after months of procedural measures were used in order to prevent a given chamber from voting on the other chamber’s version of the legislation. Next the bill will go to President Trump, who is expected to veto the legislation according to the White House. (The Hill)

April 4, 2019

Tom Udall (D-NM) Introduces S.1039

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduces the “Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act” to limit the ability of the Executive Branch to engage in “kinetic” military operations against Iran. The bill cites past statements and tweets by the President that to some indicate a ratcheting of tensions between the Trump Administration and Iran. If passed, the bill would make it so that military operations in or against Iran only receive funding if approved by Congress. The bill is co-sponsored by a number of Democratic Senators, as well as Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).

April 2, 2019

Senators Send Letter to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry

Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry seeking clarification following reports that the Trump Administration granted companies permission to sell nuclear technologies to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The letter cites the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 which requires all international nuclear partnerships to be Congressionally certified under a 123 agreement, something to which Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are not partners. The letter mentions that many in Congress worry Saudi officials have interest in developing a nuclear weapon, and do not want to encourage a nuclear race between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

March 28, 2019

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) Introduces S.925

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced a bill that would add additional sanctions to Iranian actors supporting or participating in the activities of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

March 27, 2019

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE01) Introduces H.Res 259

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE01) introduced a resolution that the House formally recognize its support for the repatriation of Iraqi religious minorities to their ethnic homelands in Iraq.

The bill specifically mentions Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, and highlights the discrimination that has historically been faced by Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Christians, Yazidis and Shabak. The bill calls on the U.S. to work with international organizations and the Kurdish regional government to integrate all religious communities.

The bill is cosponsored by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA18).

March 19, 2019

Senators Send Letter to King of Saudi Arabia

A group of Senate Democrats led by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to King Salman of Saudi Arabia raising concerns over reports  of human rights abuses experienced by activists and an American citizen detained in Saudi Arabia.

The letter’s introduction mentions prominent cases of Raif Badawi, Loujain al-Hathloul and Dr. Walid Fitaihi. The latter is an American citizen who has been held in Saudi Arabia without charges since 2017, and recently gained Congressional attention amidst reports of torture.

The letter also points to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen as evidence that, “for too long, human rights have taken a backseat in Saudi Arabia.” The letter culminates in a call for the release of these prisoners. Sen. Durbin was joined by eight follow Senators, including 2020 Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in signing the letter.

March 14, 2019

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA19) Introduces H.Res 238

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA19) introduced a resolution that the House formally recognize the significance of Nowruz, the celebration of the traditional Iranian New Year.

As justification of the holiday’s importance to the U.S., the bill mentions Nowruz’s 300,000,000 global observers. Additionally, the bill mentions the contributions of Iranian-Americans to the U.S.’s social fabric, economy, government and military. The legislation suggests Nowruz should be recognized to remind Americans of the “contribution of Persian Culture to the world.”

March 13, 2019

Senate (54Y-46N) Passes S.J Res. 7

The United States Senate passed a War Powers Resolution to curtail United States’ military assistance to the Arab-led coalition in Yemen. The body had passed a similar bill during the 115th Congress, and due to rules of Senate procedure was unable to consider H.J Res 37 after it passed the House earlier this year.

Up next, the Senate version of this resolution will go to the House, where it is expected to pass. If so, the measure will go to the President, who is anticipated to veto the War Powers Measure. The bill was sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) among other co-sponsors.

March 12, 2019

Rep. Theodore Deutch (D-FL22) Introduces H.Res 218

Congressman Theodore Deutch (D-FL22) introduced legislation calling on Iran to fulfill it’s stated promise to provide assistance in determining the whereabouts of missing retired FBI Agent Robert Levinson.

Mr. Levinson disappeared 12 years ago after checking into a hotel on Iran’s Kish Island. Since then, video and images have surfaced indicating Mr. Levinson is alive and being held in captivity somewhere in Southwest Asia. The Government of Iran has repeatedly pledged to assist in locating Mr. Levinson, however according to the legislation, Iran has not fulfilled it’s promises. In 2016 UNGWAD determined Iran was responsible for Mr. Levinson’s arbitrary detention. In 2013, Mr. Levinson became the longest-held arbitrarily detained American citizen.

March 12, 2019

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) Introduces S. Res. 104

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation calling on Iran to fulfill it’s stated promise to provide assistance in determining the whereabouts of missing retired FBI agent Robert Levinson.

Mr. Levinson disappeared 12 years ago after checking into a hotel on Iran’s Kish Island. Since then, video and images have surfaced indicating Mr. Levinson is alive and being held in captivity somewhere in Southwest Asia. The Government of Iran has repeatedly pledged to assist in locating Mr. Levinson, however according to the legislation, Iran has not fulfilled it’s promises. In 2016 UNGWAD determined Iran was responsible for Mr. Levinson’s arbitrary detention. In 2013, Mr. Levinson became the longest-held arbitrarily detained American citizen.

March 7, 2019

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) Introduces S.J Res 13

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced a joint resolution to repeal the Congressional authorizations that had been given to the Executive branch allowing Presidents to take military actions in 1991 in Kuwait and 2003 in Iraq. If passed, the resolution would formally end both of these wars.

In introducing the legislation Senator Kaine said repealing these authorizations will create an extra-hurdle for future Presidents to take military action, thusly allowing Congress to reassert its authority on matters of war and intervention.

The bill is co-sponsored by Marine veteran Senator Todd Young (R-IN).

March 7, 2019

Rep. Theodore Deutch (D-FL22) Introduces H.Res 187

Congressman Theodore Deutch (D-FL22) introduced legislation calling on Iran to unconditionally release all American citizens and legal residents currently being imprisoned in Iran.

The legislation mentions several notable disappearances, including that of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who was last seen on Iran’s Kish Island in March 2007. In November 2016 the U.S. determined the Iranian government was responsible for Levinson’s disappearance and arbitrary detention.

In addition to Levinson, the bill mentions other U.S residents detained by Iran including Siamak Namazi, Baquer Namazi, Xiyue Wang and Nizar Zakka.

March 5, 2019

Rep. Bradley Schneider Introduces H.R 1541

Congressman Bradley Schneider (D-IL10) introduced a bill that would require the President to submit a report to both chambers of Congress outlining the effects Saudi nuclear enrichment would have on the United States, Israel and other U.S. allies.

The bill is co-sponsored by Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC11).

February 28, 2019

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA30) Introduces H.R 1471

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA30) introduced the House iteration of a bill that seeks to ensure any US-Saudi Nuclear cooperation is subject to Congressional approval.

The bill also makes clear that the United States should not engage in nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia unless the nation becomes more transparent in the factors that led to the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Additionally, the bill calls for Saudi Arabia to fall in-line with the “gold standard” of non-proliferation, meaning that Saudi Arabia should not enrich Uranium within it’s own borders. The bill is co-sponsored by Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL03).

February 28, 2019

Rep. Andy Levin (DMI09) H.Con.Res.23

Congressman Andy Levin (D-MI09) introduced legislation expressing that United States – Saudi Arabia cooperation on civilian nuclear projects must be contingent on the “gold-standard” of non-proliferation. Included in this gold-standard are insurances that Saudi Arabia must not enrich Uranium or separate Plutonium within its own territories.

The bill comes as the House version of S.Con.Res2, an identical Senate bill introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). In the House the bill is co-sponsored by Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI3).

February 28, 2019

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) Introduces S. 612

Senator Ed Markey introduced the Senate iteration of a bill that seeks to ensure any US-Saudi Nuclear cooperation is subject to Congressional approval.

The bill also makes clear that the United States should not engage in nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia unless the nation becomes more transparent in the factors that led to the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Additionally, the bill calls for Saudi Arabia to fall in-line with the “gold standard” of non-proliferation, meaning that Saudi Arabia should not enrich Uranium within it’s own borders. The bill is cosponsored by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

February 28, 2019

Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN08) Introduces H.R 1441

Representative David Kustoff (R-TN08) introduced a bill that would require the Departments of State and Treasury to determine the levels of corruption among Senior Iranian officials, oligarchs, and Parastatal entities.

If passed, the report would indicate to Congress the extent to which corrupt Iranian officials are involved in the nation’s economy, and how this corruption impacts the United States and its allies. The text of the bill itself mentions Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The bill is cosponsored by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ05).

February 26, 2019

Letter Sent to State & Defense Depts.

A bipartisan group of Representatives on the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to leaders of the Departments of State and Defense expressing concern at reports that U.S manufactured weapons have been acquired by unintended actors in Yemen. The letter comes four days after a similar letter was sent by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The letter cites several reports that US-made weapons sold to UAE and Saudi Arabia ended up in the hands of unvetted armed groups.

Among others, the letter was signed by both Committee Chairman Eliot Engle (D-NY16) and Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX10).

The letter culminates with a request for a briefing on the situation.

February 26, 2019

Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) Introduces S.544

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), introduced a bill that, if passed, would require the Director of National Intelligence to submit a report to Congress concerning the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

The report must include the identification of all actors who called-for and participated in the murder of the Saudi journalist.

The bill is co-sponsored by Senator(s) Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

February 22, 2019

Letter Sent to State & Defense Depts.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to the Secretary of State and Acting Secretary of Defense requesting that the two officials answer 13 questions related to how US weapons ended up in the hands of unintended actors in Yemen. Among the questions asked by the Senator were clarifications as to how the Pentagon monitors unapproved ‘re-transfers’ of weapons after sales have been finalized, and thoughts as to whether Congress should impose “end-use monitoring” agreements on Arms Sales. The letter gives a March 8, 2019 deadline for answers.

Senator Warren is currently pursuing the Democratic nomination for President in 2020, and this letter comes as yet another example of how the Senator has used her position on the Armed Services Committee to beef-up her foreign policy credentials.

February 19, 2019

House Investigation Opened

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD07) opened a House Investigation into President Trump’s handling of US-Saudi relations after the emergence of reports that the Administration broke with ethics officials over the sale of nuclear technology to the Kingdom.

According to The Hill, the investigation is meant to determine if the sale would have resulted in financial benefits for those involved, a group that may include former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

February 14, 2019

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) Introduces S. Res. 73

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has introduced a Senate resolution similar to that introduced a day prior by Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL21) in order to express the Senate’s sense that Saudi Arabia must immediately release all detained women’s rights activists in the Kingdom.

Like its House counterpart, the bill was motivated by reports of alleged torture of activists such as Loujain al-Hathloul while detained in Saudi prisons.

February 14, 2019

Senators Send Letter to Secretary Pompeo

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee sent an open letter to Secretary Pompeo lambasting him for failing to comply with stipulations of the Global Magnitsky Act invoked last fall. The bipartisan invocation of the act last October necessitates that the Trump Administration investigate the possibility of imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia. The letter calls Pompeo’s response a “flagrant violation of the law,” and proceeds to request justification from the State Department as to its legal basis for not complying with Global Magnitsky. Additionally, the letter asks that Pompeo turn over a variety of documents related to the Trump Administration’s investigation of Khashoggi’s death. The letter imposes a February 28, 2019 deadline for the administration to turn over said documents.

February 13, 2019

House Passes H.J Res 37 (248Y-177N)

The House of Representatives has passed H.J Res. 37, a War Powers bill to remove American forces fighting hostilities in Yemen that have not been approved by Congress. An amendment was approved that ensures the agreement will not affect intelligence sharing between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Up next the Senate will likely consider the bill. Should the entire Congress successfully invoke the War Powers Resolution, it would be unprecedented since the enactment of the resolution in 1973.

February 13, 2019

Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL12) Introduces H. Res. 129

Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-Fl21) introduced legislation calling on the United States Congress to continue urging Saudi Arabia to release women’s rights activists currently imprisoned in the Kingdom.

It’s impetus was found in the allegations that at least ten women are currently being detained and experiencing torture in Saudi Arabia. The bill mentions by name, Hatoon al-Fassi, Aziza al-Yousef and Loujain al-Hathloul. The bill comes on a day when the House debates invoking the War Powers Resolution in regards to the US’s involvement in Yemen.

February 12, 2019

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Introduces S. Con. Res. 2

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced legislation to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that expresses that United States – Saudi Arabia cooperation on civilian nuclear projects must be contingent on the “gold-standard” of non-proliferation. Included in this gold-standard are insurances that Saudi Arabia must not enrich Uranium or separate Plutonium within its own territories.

Senator Merkley introduced similar legislation in the 115th Congress when a report was ordered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ed Markey (D-MA)

February 9, 2019

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH01) Introduces H.R 948

Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH01) introduced a bill that would allow members of Oil Producing Exporting Countries (OPEC) to be sued for collusion under United States anti-trust law. Proponents of the bill, colloquially known as N.O.P.E.C (No Oil Producing & Exporting Cartels Act), say that such legislation would prevent OPEC member nations from manipulating global oil prices. However, opponents of the legislation say that such a move would counter longstanding principles of sovereign immunity.

Legislation similar to NOPEC has been circulating for years, however the advent of President Trump seems to have given new steam to such efforts given his past criticisms of OPEC, in which he accused the body of keeping the price of oil artificially high.

Should the bill pass, it would have large repercussions for all oil-exporting nations, companies and investors involved in this business.

February 7, 2019

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) Introduces S. 398

Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez (D-NJ) released a bill seeking to find a peaceful resolution to the war in Yemen, as well as apply new sanctions on Saudi Arabia due to the government’s alleged role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Among other consequences, the bill would suspend arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, and prohibit in-flight refueling of Saudi aircraft by American planes.

As it relates to sanctions, the bill would apply sanctions on any actor contributing to Yemen’s instability, preventing the Yemeni peoples’ access to humanitarian goods or supporting the Houthi rebels. Additionally, the bill would impose sanctions on any actor found responsible for a role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

Unlike other recently introduced legislation, this bill is not being invoked under the War Powers Resolution.

February 6, 2019

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) Introduces S.357

Similar to a bill introduced in the House by Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC02), Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill that would require an annual report on the extent to which religious intolerance is being taught in Saudi textbooks.

Should the bill be signed into law, responsibility for producing such a report would be held by the Department of State. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ed Markey (D-MA)

February 6, 2019

Senate Passes S.1 (77Y-23N)

A bill sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was placed on the Senate calendar. The bill, “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019” is wide-ranging in scope, and on several instances mentions the perceived threat of Iran and its presence in Syria as a primary reason for America’s continued military presence in the region.

The bill faced a rocky start after many otherwise “Yay” votes stalled on the bill out of frustration with the ongoing government shutdown. Additionally, an amendment introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel was seen by some detractors, (particularly Senator Chris Murphy) as giving the President too much authority to potentially go to war with Iran. The amendment passed 70Y-26N. Ultimately, on February 6, 2019 the bill passed the Senate 77Y-23N. Up next the House may consider a complementary piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX10).

January 30, 2019

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA33) Introduces H.R 910

Alongside dual bills invoking the War Powers Resolution, Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA33) introduced on January 30th a bill specifically seeking to prohibit American dollars from being used to refuel Saudi-led coalition aircraft in Yemen.

The legislation comes as Congress seems to be restarting efforts to alter the  US-Saudi relationship in the aftermath of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. The legislation is co-sponsored by Congresspersons Ted Yoho (R-FL03) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ07).

January 24, 2019

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Introduces S. 231

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a bill seeking to reprimand and punish Saudi Arabia for having intervened to extradite Saudi nationals before facing charges due to alleged wrongdoing while in the United States.

According to the bill Saudi Arabia supposedly covered legal fees and posted bail for Saudi nationals, (including one allegedly involved in a fatal hit-and-run in 2016) before returning them to Saudi Arabia. Among other stipulations, the bill would require further investigation from American officials, while also imposing diplomatic consequences on Saudi officials involved in the extraditions. The bill is cosponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

January 17, 2019

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA02) Introduces H.R 643

Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA02) introduced a bill that would prohibit American security assistance to Saudi Arabia.

While the Library of Congress has yet to release the full details of the bill, it is likely similar to a bill introduced during the 115th Congress by McGovern that names the Khashoggi affair and controversy in Yemen as the primary impetus for the legislation. The bill has 20 co-sponsors and is the first of the 116th Congress to resemble last Congress’ efforts to reduce American security assistance to Saudi Arabia.

January 15, 2019

Rep. Adam Kinzinger Introduces H.R 571

Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL16) introduced a bill that would apply additional sanctions to any Iranian actor threatening the stability of post-ISIS Iraq.

The bill has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary committees and is co-sponsored by Representatives Thomas Suozzi (R-NY03), Brad Sherman (D-CA30) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL25)

January 15, 2019

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC02) Introduces H.R. 554

Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC02) introduced a piece of legislation that, if passed, would require various government ministries to produce an annual report outlining religious intolerance being taught within Saudi Arabian educational materials.

The bill has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is co-sponsored by Representative William Keating (D-MA09)

January 8, 2019

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX10) Introduces H.R 336

Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX10) introduced legislation that names threats from Iran as the primary impetus for a continued military presence in the region.

The legislation is similar in name and content to bill introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the Senate, that on February 5th, 2019 passed in the Senate with several key amendments that are not a part of Rep. McCaul’s iteration of the bill.

It is unclear to what extent the bill will be considered beyond the initial step of being introduced.

January 8, 2019

House Passes “Voice-Vote” H.R.31

After having been introduced on January 3, 2019, Congress passed a bill from Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY16) that would impose sanctions on Iranian actors contributing to Syria’s instability. The bill was passed by voice-vote and appears to come at a time when Congress is reasserting involvement in Syria while the President concurrently floats a possible withdrawal.

Up next, the Senate may consider complementary legislation introduced by Senator Jim Risch (R-ID).

January 3, 2019

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX10) introduces H.R194

The first day of the 116th Congress, Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX10) introduced H.R194 ‘To Impose Additional Sanctions With Respect to Serious Human Rights Abuses of the Government of Iran and for Other Purposes.’

As outlined by its title, the bill cites the human rights abuses of Iran as a reason for the application of additional US sanctions against the country. The bill has been referred to the Foreign Affairs, Judiciary, Financial Services, and Ways & Means Committee.

2018
December 13, 2018

Senate (Voice Vote) Agrees to S.J Res 69

In the midst of voting on the final iteration of the legally binding S.J Res 54, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) submitted a different non-legally binding resolution ascribing blame to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for a variety of perceived regional missteps. The resolution is very similar to one introduced just days ago by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and among other faults blames the young Prince for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and atrocities in the Yemen War.

Despite supporting procedural votes to allow debate on S.J Res 54, Corker ultimately opposed the law, arguing that this non-binding resolution is a more diplomatic way to go about censuring the Saudi Government

December 12, 2018

House Passes (369Y-47N) H.R 2

Colloquially known as the “Farm Bill,” the House of Representatives voted to move “Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018” to a final vote. The procedural vote passed 206-203. The bill is being spearheaded by Rep. Michael Conway (R-TX11). The annual legislation gained attention due to a last-minute clause added by outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI01) saying that the “War Powers Resolution…shall not apply during the remainder of the One Hundred and Fifteenth Congress…with respect to Yemen.” The final version of the House’s Farm Bill was passed on December 13, 2018.

Because un-enacted legislation at the end of a Congress is wiped from the record books, any efforts to invoke the War Powers Resolution in regards to Yemen will need to restart in the 116th Congress.

December 11, 2018

President Trump Enacts H.R 390

A bill sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ04) was signed into law by President Trump. Formally titled the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018, the law authorizes various United States agencies to provide assistance to those in Iraq and Syria who are investigating genocide and other abuses against the countries’ religious minorities.

The bill also authorizes US agencies to correct shortfalls in the US justice system in order to better prosecute the international perpetrators of these injustices.

In the House the measure was approved by a voice-vote, while in the Senate it was agreed to by unanimous consent.

December 5, 2018

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Introduces S. Res. 714

On December 5th, 2018 Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced a Senate Resolution that holds Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) personally responsible for a) the humanitarian situation in Yemen, b) the ongoing blockade of Qatar c) the torture and jailing of dissidents and d) personally orchestrating the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The resolution comes after a select group of Senators were briefed on the situation by CIA Director Gina Haspel. The resolution itself is non-binding, however comes as yet another rebuke from the Congress regarding the US-Saudi relationship, and comes ahead of an expected floor debate on S.J 54 – a bill that if passed in both chambers would significantly curtail US assistance to Saudi Arabia in Yemen. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen(s) Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Todd Young (R-IN) and Chris Coons (D-DE).