Monday, July 07, 2008

Update on H.Con.Res. 362/S.Res. 580

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) told one member of Congress just before the 4th of July recess that he does not want to mark up H.Con.Res. 362, but he feels his hands are tied because of pressure from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Rep. Berman told another member of Congress that the resolution is moving and is out of his hands. However, Members of Congress are receiving significant pushback on the resolution because it is so controversial, provocative and counterproductive (see letter from Rep. Barney Frank to a constituent below). The good news for this week is that the resolution is not currently on the House suspension calendar. It is also unclear, nor has it been announced, whether H.Con.Res. 362 will be marked up in the Foreign Affairs committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday, July 9.

The same is also true for S.Res. 580, the Senate companion resolution. While the Foreign Relations committee has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, July 9, it is not clear if they will mark up the resolution. Compared to the House of Representatives, things have been far more quiet on the Senate side.

It is entirely possible that there may be an attempt to attach S.Res. 580 to the Defense Authorization bill when it is debated on the Senate floor (likely to take place the week of July 14), but this remains an open question. The Senate is more likely to consider the new Iran Sanctions Act, which replaced S.970-the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007, as an amendment to Defense Authorization than S.Res. 580, but both or either will face significant opposition.

S.Res. 580 is also unlikely to get a hearing in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in the near term. Neither Committee Chair Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), nor Ranking Member Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) have co-sponsored the resolution.

It should be noted that the language in S.Res. 580 is slightly different from H.Con.Res. 362, but just as provocative. The third paragraph, for example, does not demand a "stringent inspections regime," but "demands that the President lead an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the pressure on the Government of Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, among other measures, banning the importation of refined petroleum products to Iran."

I will post updated information as it becomes available. In the meantime, below is the text of a response from Representative Barney Frank (D-MA). It was forwarded to us by a member after contacting Rep. Frank with concerns regarding H.Con.Res. 362.

"I thank you for contacting me about language in the resolution regarding Iran that calls for a blockade of its naval activity. I agree that this should not be our policy, and I regret the fact that I did not read this resolution more carefully. I'm going to consult with the authors to see if a change can be made that would omit this language, and if they are unwilling to do that, I will make very clear my disagreement with this in the most appropriate form. I am grateful to those who called this to my attention. I apologize again for not having read this more carefully.

I do support sanctions against Iran and I disagree with those who think that sanctions are inappropriate. I believe that sanctions appropriately done can have an impact on the behavior of countries whose behavior ought to be changed. The fact that our European allies, and even Russia and China, have agreed with us on the sanctions I think is a testimony to the legitimacy of this approach. But I repeat that I do think we should have a very clear distinction between sanctions and military action or the threat of it, and the blockade clearly falls on the wrong side of that line, so I will be making clear my opposition to that."

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Here is Rep. Ron Paul's view on H.Con.Res 362

We have a "Champion of the Constitution" on our side!!