08
Jan

Congressional Round Up

Congress is considering a number of legislative initiatives that may be of interest to the Iranian American community.  The PAAIA Public Policy Center is pleased to provide a round-up on the status of the legislation. In general, PAAIA focuses on bills and congressional actions concerning three areas: civil liberties, foreign policy towards Iran, and immigration.  PAAIA recognizes that it is important that Iranian Americans be informed about legislative initiatives in these areas and the positions that their members of Congress take concerning them.

 

Bills & Resolutions

 

Foreign Policy

S.653: Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2013

On March 22, 2013, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced S.653, also known as the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2013.  The legislation has gained a total of 23 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom are Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Patrick Toomey (R-PA).  The bill has been referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

S. 653 provides for the establishment of a Special Envoy to promote religious freedom for religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia. The duties of the envoy would include monitoring and combating acts of incitement and intolerance directed against religious minorities, working to ensure that the economic and security needs of such minorities are met, and working with foreign governments in the Near East and South Central Asia to address laws that are religiously discriminatory. The Special Envoy would be subject to the direction of the President and the Secretary of State.  

A similar bill, H.R.301, has been introduced in the House.

S.1881: Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013

On December 20, 2013, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced S.1881, also known as the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013.  The legislation has gained a total of 59 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom are Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Hoeven (R-ND), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Barrasso (R-WY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Dean Heller (R-NV), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Patrick Toomey (R-PA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Tim Scott (R-SC), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT), John Thune (R-SD), Deb Fischer (R-NE), and James Inhofe (R-OK).

S.1881 expands sanctions imposed with respect to Iran and imposes additional sanctions with respect to Iran, and for other purposes. The legislation requires further reductions in purchases of Iranian petroleum and applies additional penalties to strategic elements of the Iranian economy, to include the engineering, mining and construction sectors. It allows for the president to waive the new sanctions for up to one year to pursue a diplomatic track with Iran.  It  also imposes certain conditions for a final agreement, which, amongst other factors, stipulates that the administration may not suspend sanctions unless a final and verifiable agreement has been reached that will dismantle Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities.

S.RES.75: Condemnation of Persecution of Baha’is

On March 12, 2013, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced S.RES.75, also known as the Condemnation of Persecution of Baha’is.  The legislation has gained a total of 36 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom is Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT). The resolution was agreed to in the Senate with an amendment and an amended preamble by Unanimous Consent.

S.RES.75 condemns Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights. S.RES.75 calls on Iran to release all prisoners held solely on account of their religion. It also calls on the President and Secretary of State, in cooperation with responsible nations, to condemn Iran’s continued violation of human rights and demand the release of prisoners held solely on account of their religion. S.RES.75 urges the President and Secretary to impose sanctions on Iranian government officials and other individuals directly responsible for serious human rights abuses, including abuses against the Baha’i community of Iran.

S.RES.75 has been introduced in the House as H.RES.109.

H.RES.147: Calling for the release of United States citizen Saeed Abedini and condemning the Government of Iran for its persecution of religious minorities.

On April 10, 2013, Representative Bill Cassidy (R-LA/6th) introduced H.RES. 147. The legislation has gained a total of 91 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom is Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA/17th), and has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

H.RES.147 condemns the government of Iran for its persecution of religious minorities, including Saeed Abedini (a U.S. citizen sentenced to prison in Iran after being tried for his religious beliefs and convicted for undermining the government of Iran). H.RES.147 also calls on: (1) Iran to release Saeed Abedini to the United States; and (2) the U.S. government to work aggressively for his release by designating appropriate Iranian officials for human rights abuses pursuant to the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010.

H.RES.431: Calling on the United States Senate to increase sanctions against Iran.

On December 5, 2013, Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA/1st) introduced H.RES.431. The legislation has gained a total of 62 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom are Representatives Roger Williams (R-TX/25th), Scott Tipton (R-CO/3rd), Richard Hudson (R-NC/8th), Jim Bridenstine (R-OK/1st), Bob Latta (R-OH-5th), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA/3rd). H.RES.431 has been referred to the Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means Committees in the House of Representatives.

H.RES.431 states that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and calls on the Senate to take immediate action on the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 to increase sanctions against Iran.

 

Immigration

H.R.140: Birthright Citizenship Act of 2013

On January 3, 2013, Representative Steve King (R-IA/4th) introduced H.R.140, also known as the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2013. The legislation has gained a total of 30 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom is Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX/4th), and has been referred to the House Committee on Immigration and Border Security.

H.R. 140 amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to consider a person born in the United States “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States for citizenship at birth purposes if the person is born in the United States of parents, one of whom is: (1) a U.S. citizen or national, (2) a lawful permanent resident alien whose residence is in the United States, or (3) an alien performing active service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

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