12
Sep

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 12 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom are Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Tim Scott (R-SC), 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 27 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom are Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Brian Schatz (D-HI), 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.

H.R. 301: Provides for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia

On January 15, 2013, Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA/10th) introduced H.R.301. The legislation has gained a total of 69 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

H.R. 301 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, S.653, has been introduced in the Senate.

H.RES.89: Condemns the attack on Iranian dissidents living at Camp Hurriya

On February 28, 2013, Representative Ted Poe (R-TX/2nd) introduced H.RES.89.  The legislation has a total of 102 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom are Representatives Spencer Bachus (R-AL/6th) and Tom Latham (R-IA/3rd), and has been referred to the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

H.RES.89 condemns the attack against the residents of Camp Hurriya in Iraq, calls on the President to work with Iraq to ensure that the December 25, 2011, Memorandum of Understanding on the temporary relocation and eventual resettlement of the residents of Camp Ashraf is fully implemented and that humanitarian protections for such residents are upheld.  The bill also urges the President to work with Iraq and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to return the residents of Camp Hurriya to Camp Ashraf where they will have more protection from any future terrorist attacks.

H.RES.109: 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, Representative Michael G. Grimm (R-NY/11th) introduced H.RES. 109.  The legislation has gained a total of 66 co-sponsors, the most recent of whom are Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT/2nd), Howard Coble (R-NC/6th), George Holding (R-NC/13th), Danny Davis (D-IL/7th), and Bill Foster (D-IL/11th), and has been referred to the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

H.RES.109 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.  H.RES.109 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. 

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

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