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
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 16 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom are Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Roger Wicker (R-MS), and 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.RES.75: Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights
On March 12, 2013, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced S.RES.75. The legislation has gained a total of 30 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom are Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Charles Grassley (R-KS), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and has been referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
S.RES.75 calls on Iran to release all prisoners being held solely on account of their religion. It calls on the U.S. president and secretary of state, in cooperation with responsible nations, to condemn Iran’s continued human rights violations and demand that prisoners held for their religious beliefs be released.
S.RES.75 also urges the president and secretary to impose sanctions on Iranian government officials and other individuals directly responsible to serious human rights abuses, including abuses against Iran’s Baha’i community.
S.RES.75 has been introduced in the House of Representatives as H.RES.109.