06
Mar

Congressional Roundup

March 6, 2015, Washington, D.C. – 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 roundup 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.269: Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act of 2015

Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Michael Enzi (R-WY) were added as cosponsors to S.269, bringing the total number of cosponsors to 47. The bill was introduced on January 27, 2015 by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL).

The legislation reinstates previously waived sanctions on Iran beginning July 6, 2015 if Iran and the P5+1 fail to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program. A waiver authority provision is included to enable the president to waive sanctions in 30-day increments if a settlement with Iran is within reach. In addition, the bill directs the president to submit to Congress the text of the agreement, verification assessment report and economic sanctions relief assessment report within 5 days of reaching an agreement with Iran.

 

 S.615:  The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

S.615 was introduced on February 27, 2015 by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN). The bill has a total of 13 cosponsors and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations on February 27th.

The legislation sets up a mechanism for Congress to approve, disapprove, or take no action on an agreement with Iran.  It would require the president to submit the text of any agreement to Congress within five days of the final settlement. Congress would then be able to review the agreement for 60 days during which time the president would be restrained from waiving any additional sanctions on Iran outside of those designated by Joint Plan of Action.

 

The Iran Congressional Oversight Act of 2015

The Iran Congressional Oversight Act of 2015 was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on March 4, 2015.  The bill has a total of seven co-sponsors was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.  At time of publication of this report the legislation has still not been assigned a bill number.  

The legislation would require the Administration to regularly report to Congress on Iranian compliance with any deal, and sets up an expedited process for Congress to reinstate sanctions and impose other penalties if Iran violates the terms of the deal.

 

S.RES.40: A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding efforts by the United States and others to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was recently added as a cosponsor to S.Res.40, bringing the total number of cosponsors to 14. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the legislation on January 26, 2015, which has now been referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations for consideration.

 The resolution reaffirms that it is the policy of the  U.S.  that Iran will not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon and supports the diplomatic efforts made by the United States and the members of the P5+1 countries to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

 

Immigration

 

H.R.52: Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2015

H.R.52 was introduced on January 6, 2015 by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18). The legislation was referred to the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security on January 23rd.

H.R.52 amends the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to provide increased protections and eligibility for family-sponsored immigrants. The bill directs the Secretary of State to establish a Board of Family-based Visa Appeals within the Department of State.

The legislation authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary in the rest of this bill) to deny a family-based immigration petition by a U.S. petitioner for an alien spouse or child if: (1) the petitioner is on the national sex offender registry for a conviction that resulted in more than one year’s imprisonment, (2) the petitioner has failed to rebut such information within 90 days, and (3) granting the petition would put a spouse or child beneficiary in danger of sexual abuse.

 

H.R.140: Birthright Citizenship Act of 2015

H.R.140 was introduced by Representative Steve King (R-IA-4) on January 6, 2015. It has received a total of 11 cosponsors.

The legislation 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. The bill also states that this Act shall not be construed to affect the citizenship or nationality status of any person born before the date of its enactment.

 

H.R.213: Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2015

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-13) introduced H.R.213 on January 8, 2015. The bill has received 17 cosponsors, the most recent of which include Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), Steve Russell (R-OK-5), Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15), Glenn Thompson (R-PA-5), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16), Matt Cartwright (D-PA-17), Richard Hanna (R-NY-22). The bill was referred   to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security on February 2, 2015.

The legislation amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the per country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants and increase the per country numerical limitation for family based immigrants from 7% to 15% of the total number of family-sponsored visas.

 

H.R.616: American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2015

H.R.616 was introduced on January 28, 2015 by Representative Jared Polis (D-CO-2). The bill has 2 cosponsors and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary on January 28th.

The bill seeks to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for reforms to the EB-5 immigrant investor program, and for other purposes. H.R.616 directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to defer to state targeted employment area designations by prescribing the secretary 1) establish a preapproval procedure for commercial enterprises that allows a regional center to apply for preapproval of a new commercial enterprise before an alien files a petition for classification by reason of investment in such enterprise; and (2) defer to certain prior favorable EB-5 determinations except in the case of fraud, material change, or legal deficiency.

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