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 July 19, 2012.
Bills & Resolutions
H.R.1905/S.2101: Iran Sanctions – Providing for the concurrence by the House in the Senate amendment to H.R. 1905, with an amendment.
This week Congress easily passed legislation that imposes new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and on human rights violations. The legislation was approved by the Senate by unanimous consent following a House approval by a vote of 421-6. The measure now heads to President Obama for his expected signature.
The legislation reconciles the House (H.R.1905) and Senate (S.2101) bills and incorporates new provisions from lawmakers. Among other things, the legislation closes loopholes in existing sanctions law, builds on the current penalties directed at financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank, and adds sanctions to undermine Iran’s oil income, including insurance and shipping sectors. It also requires companies that trade on the U.S. stock exchange to disclose any Iran-related business to the Securities and Exchange Commission and would deny visas and freeze assets on individuals and companies that supply Iran with technology that could be used against its citizens.
H.R. 4173: Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act.
Representative Hank Johnson (D-4th/GA) and Delegate Eleanor Norton (D-DC) were added as a co-sponsor to H.R. 4173 on July 27th and August 2nd, 2012. The bill was introduced by Representative Barbara Lee (D-9th/CA) on March 8, 2012 and has a total of 32 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.
On July 20, 2012, Representative Scott Garrett (R-5th/NJ) signed on as a supporter of H.R.4228, becoming its 21st co-sponsor. The bill was introduced by Representative Michael McCaul on March 21, 2012 and 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 seven additional co-sponsors between July 20th and August 2nd, 2012. The most recent co-sponsors include Representatives Trey Gowdy (R-4th/SC), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-21st/FL), Howard Coble (R-6th/NC), Andre Carson (D-7th/IN), Joe Heck (R-3rd/NV), Susan Davis (D-53rd/CA), and Mik Mulvaney (R-5th/SC). The resolution was introduced by Representative Robert Dold (R-10th/IL) and has a total of 128 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.
S.1258: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) was added as a co-sponsor to S. 1258 on July 26, 2012. The bill was introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on June 22, 2011 and has a total of 12 co-sponsors. It has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
The legislation seeks to create a lawful prospective immigrant status for a qualifying alien present in the United States, as well as for such alien’s qualifying spouse and children who may be outside the United States.
H.R.1842: Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2011 or DREAM Act of 2011.
Representative Jim McGovern (D-3rd/MA) was added as a co-sponsor to H.R.1842 on August 2, 2012. The legislation has a total of 95 co-sponsors and 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.