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 bi-weekly round-up on the status of such legislation. In general, PAAIA focuses on bills and congressional actions, which bear on three areas: civil liberties, foreign policy towards Iran, and immigration. PAAIA recognizes it is important that Iranian Americans be informed about such legislative initiatives and the positions that their members of Congress are taking concerning these topics.
Click here to read Congressional Round-Up: Week Ending August 3, 2012.
Bills & Resolutions
S.J.Res.41: Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the nuclear program of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
S.J.Res.41 passed the Senate without amendment and with a preamble by a vote of 90 – 1 onSeptember 22, 2012. Record Vote Number: 197. The bill was introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on May 24, 2012 and has a total of 84 co-sponsors.
The joint resolution expresses the sense of Congress regarding the nuclear program of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a revised version of S.Res.380. The joint resolution ends with following sentence: “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war.”
H.R. 4173: Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act.
Representatives Charles Rangel (D-15th/NY), Jim McDermott (D-7th/WA), and Peter Welch (D-VT) were added as co-sponsors to H.R. 4173 between September 20th and September 21st, 2012. The bill was introduced by Representative Barbara Lee (D-9th/CA) on March 8, 2012 and has a total of 35 co-sponsors. It has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. A similar version of H.R.4173 was offered as an amendment (Amdt. 161) to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 on May 18, 2012 but failed by a vote of 77-344.
H.R.4173 directs the President to appoint a high-level U.S. representative or special envoy who shall: (1) seek to ease tensions and normalize relations between the United States and Iran, (2) lead U.S. diplomatic efforts with regard to Iran, and (3) act as liaison with U.S. and international intelligence agencies. The bill also directs the Secretary of State to: (1) rescind the no contact policy with Iran, and (2) establish an office in the Department of State to support the work of the representative or special envoy.
H.R. 4228: To direct the Secretary of State to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force as a foreign terrorist organization, and for other purposes.
Representatives Jeff Duncan (R-3rd/SC), Joe Walsh (R-8th/IL), and Mo Brooks (R-5th/AL) signed on as supporters of H.R.4228 between September 10th and September 20th, 2012. The bill was introduced by Representative Michael McCaul (R-10th/TX) and has a total of 23 co-sponsors. It has been referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs.
The legislation directs the Secretary of State to: (1) designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, and (2) report to Congress on IRGC terrorist activities.
H.Res.134: Condemns 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.
H.Res.134 gained eleven additional co-sponsors between September 10th and September 23rd, 2012. The most recent co-sponsors include but are not limited to Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-1st/OR), Mazie Hirono (D-2nd/HI), and Christopher Smith (R-4th/NJ). The resolution was introduced by Representative Robert Dold (R-10th/IL) and has a total of 138 co-sponsors. It has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The resolution calls on the government of Iran to release seven specified imprisoned Baha’i leaders and all other prisoners held on account of their religion. The resolution also urges the President and Secretary of State to utilize all available measures, such as those available under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 and Executive Order 13553, to sanction Iranian government officials and other individuals directly responsible for human rights violations in Iran, including against the Baha’i community.
H.Con.Res.137: Expressing the sense of Congress that the Azeri people, currently divided between Azerbaijan and Iran, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country if they so choose.
H.Con.Res.137 was introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-46th/CA) on September 12th, 2012. The resolution has no co-sponsors. It has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The resolution expresses the sense of Congress that the Azeri people, currently divided between Azerbaijan and Iran, have the right to self-determination and to their own sovereign country if they so choose.
H.R.1842: Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2011 or DREAM Act of 2011.
H.R.1842 gained seventeen additional co-sponsors between September 10th and September 12th, 2012. The most recent co-sponsors include but are not limited to Representatives John Sarbanes (D-3rd/MD), Donna Edwards (D-4th/MD), Jerrold Nadler (D-8th/NY), and Loretta Sanchez (D-47th/CA). The legislation was introduced by Representative Howard Berman (D-28th/CA) and has a total of 112 co-sponsors. It has been referred to the House Committees on Education and Workforce, Homeland Security, and Judiciary.
The legislation seeks to provide undocumented high school students the opportunity to earn permanent residency. The DREAM Act would allow undocumented students to obtain legal status if they arrived in the U.S. at the age of 15 or younger, have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years, have graduated from high school, have good moral character, and are willing to serve in the military or attend college for at least two years.
H.R.5893: To jump-start economic recovery through the formation and growth of new businesses, and for other purposes.
Representative Adam Smith (D-9th/WA) was added as co-sponsors to H.R. 5893 on September 12th, 2012. The legislation was introduced by Representative Michael Grimm (R-13th/NY) and has a total of 24 co-sponsors. It has been referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Ways and Means.
The legislation is intended to create and keep jobs in America; increase America’s access to talent in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by reforming high-skilled visa policies; and create opportunities for startup businesses with tax incentives and access to resources for innovation. The bill allows qualifying startup businesses to receive up to $250,000 in tax credits. It also will allow the world’s best and brightest students and entrepreneurs to remain in the U.S. to start businesses and hire Americans, rather than being forced to leave the country.