2016 Congressional Scorecard | PAAIA

2016 Congressional Scorecard

2016 Congressional Scorecard

The PAAIA 2015-2016 Congressional Scorecard rates members of Congress on votes and other positions taken in the House of Representatives and Senate in the 114th Congress that affect and are of interest to the Iranian American community.

Published bi-annually, the primary purpose of the scorecard is to ensure that Iranian Americans are informed of the voting records and performances of their members of Congress. In addition, the scorecard ensures that members of Congress are aware that their votes and positions on issues of importance to the Iranian American community will be analyzed and made public. It examines votes and positions only for 2015-2016, and does not, in any way, reflect each member’s past voting record. The scorecard is merely an informational tool used by PAAIA and its affiliated organizations and does not indicate our approval or disapproval of specific members of Congress.

In this scorecard, PAAIA focuses on legislation and congressional actions regarding the Iran Nuclear Agreement and U.S. – Iran relations, as well as visa immigration related issues. We have also included a “special topics” section for noteworthy legislation that does not fall neatly into any other category.

The following sections’ analyses indicate whether PAAIA supports (+) or opposes (—) the legislation. The designation “S” refers to a bill in the Senate, while “H.R.” refers to House Resolutions.

Senate

 

 

StatesSenatorsS.269Cotton LetterH.J.Res.64S.2119S.3267S.Res.529S.2449Visa Waiver LettersOverall
AlabamaShelby (R)Fail
Sessions (R)Fail
AlaskaMurkowski (R)Fail
Sullivan (R)Fail
ArizonaMcCain (R)Fail
Flake (R)++Pass
ArkansasBoozman (R)Fail
Cotton (R)Fail
CaliforniaFeinstein (D)+Pass
Boxer (D)+++Pass
ColoradoBennet (D)++Pass
Gardner (R)Fail
ConnecticutBlumenthal (D)++Pass
Murphy (D)++Pass
DelawareCarper (D)+Pass
Coons (D)+++Pass
FloridaNelson (D)+Pass
Rubio (R)Fail
GeorgiaIsakson (R)Fail
Perdue (R)Fail
HawaiiSchatz (D)+++Pass
Hirono (D)+Pass
IdahoCrapo (R)Fail
Risch (R)Fail
IllinoisDurbin (D)+++Pass
Kirk (R)Fail
IndianaCoars (R)Fail
Donnelly (D)++Pass
IowaGrassley (R)Fail
Ernst (R)Fail
KansasRoberts (R)Fail
Moran (R)Fail
KentuckyMcConnell (R)Fail
Paul (R)Fail
LouisianaVitter (R)Fail
Cassidy (R)Fail
MaineCollins (R)Fail
King (I)+Pass
MarylandMikulski (D)+Pass
Cardin (D)+Pass
MassachusettsWarren (D)+Pass
Markey (D)++Pass
MichiganStabenow (D)++Pass
Peters (D)+Pass
MinnesotaKlobuchar (D)++Pass
Franken (D)++Pass
MississippiCochran (R)Fail
Wicker (R)Fail
MissouriMcCaskill (D)+Pass
Blunt (R)Fail
MontanaTester (D)+Pass
Daines (R)Fail
NebraskaFischer (R)Fail
Sasse (R)Fail
NevadaReid (D)+Pass
Heller (R)+Fail
New HampshireShaheen (D)+Pass
Ayotte (R)Fail
New JerseyMenendez (D)Fail
Booker (D)+++++Pass
New MexicoUdall (D)+Pass
Heinrich (D)++Pass
New YorkSchumer (D)+Fail
Gillibrand (D)+Pass
North CarolinaBurr (R)Fail
Tillis (R)Fail
North DakotaHoeven (R)Fail
Heitkamp (D)+Pass
OhioBrown (D)++Pass
Portman (R)Fail
OklahomaInhofe (R)Fail
Lankford (R)Fail
OregonWyden (D)+++Pass
Merkley (D)+Pass
PennsylvaniaCasey (D)+Pass
Toomey (R)Fail
Rhode IslandReed (D)+Pass
Whitehouse (D)+Pass
South CarolinaGraham (R) Fail
Scott (R)Fail
South DakotaThune (R)Fail
Rounds (R)Fail
TennesseeAlexander (R)Fail
Corker (R)Fail
TexasCoryn (R)Fail
Cruz (R)Fail
UtahHatch (R)+Fail
Lee (R)Fail
VermontLeahy (D)++Pass
Sanders (I)+Pass
VirginiaWarner (D)++Pass
Kaine (D)+Pass
WashingtonMurray (D)++Pass
Cantwell (D)+Pass
West VirginiaManchin (D)+Fail
Capito (R)Fail
WisconsinJohnson (R)Fail
Baldwin (D)++Pass
WyomingEnzi (R)Fail
Barrasso (R)Fail

S.269 – Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act of 2015

The bill, amongst other measures, would have reinstated sanctions on Iran that were previously waived under the interim nuclear agreement and would have imposed new economic penalties on Iran if international negotiations did not yield a final nuclear deal by the self-imposed deadline.

PAAIA supported the Obama Administration’s efforts in urging Senators to temporarily hold off on implementing new sanctions legislation while talks with Iran regarding its nuclear program were in process. Ad-ministration officials as well as most national security experts expressed concerns that passing such legislation could potentially derail the negotiations and splinter the international coalition cooperating on sanctions. Cosponsors receive a (—) on the scorecard.

 

Primary Sponsors: Sen. Kirk, Mark [R-IL], Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ]

Co-sponsors: 52

Status: Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Original measure reported to Senate by Senator Shelby. Without written report.

 


Cotton Letter – Warning Iranian Leaders that President Obama’s successor could revoke any nuclear agreement

On March 9, 2016, a group of Republican Senators sent an open letter to Iranian leaders, warning that President Obama’s successor could revoke any nuclear agreement “with the stroke of a pen” if the deal is not approved by Congress. The letter was spearheaded by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), a staunch opponent of the nuclear talks with Iran. The letter drew criticism from the Obama Administration, Democrats, and some Republicans for potentially undermining nuclear negotiations with Iran and threatening to torpedo bipartisan-ship on Capitol Hill when it comes to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. PAAIA’s national public opinion surveys indicate that Iranian Americans strongly support diplomatic initiatives to address questions about Iran’s nuclear program. Senators who signed the letter receive a (—) on the scorecard.

 


H.J.Res.64 – Disapproving of the agreement transmitted to Congress by the President on July 19, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran

The legislation states that Congress does not favor the nuclear agreement with Iran (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) transmitted by the President to Congress on July 19, 2015, for purposes of prohibiting the taking of any action involving statutory sanctions relief by the United States pursuant to such agreement. On a procedural vote, the resolution fell two votes short of 60 needed to consider the legislation, effectively ensuring that the nuclear accord will be implemented.

PAAIA’s 2016 national public opinion survey shows that nearly two-thirds of Iranian Americans (65%) approved of the P5+1 agreement with Iran designed to place limits on Iran’s nuclear program. Senators who voted to invoke cloture to end the debate and bring the measure of disapproval for a vote receive a (—) on the scorecard while those who voted against the motion receive a (+).

 

Primary Sponsor: Rep. Royce, Edward R. [R-CA-39]

Co-sponsors: 52

Status: Failed to pass the Senate.

 


S.2119 – Iran Policy Oversight Act

The legislation would strengthen implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran while also reaffirming Congress’s commitment to countering Iran’s activities of concern. It would require the President to designate within the State Department a special coordinator for implementation of and compliance with the JCPOA regarding the Iran’s nuclear program. PAAIA’s 2016 national public opinion survey shows that nearly two-thirds of Iranian Americans (65%) approved of the P5+1 agreement with Iran designed to place limits on Iran’s nuclear program. Cosponsors receive a (+) on the scorecard.

 

Primary Sponsor: Sen. Cardin, Ben [D-MD]

Co-sponsors: 13

Status: Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

S.3267 – Countering Iranian Threats Act of 2016

The bill seeks to expand sanctions for ballistic missile development, support for terrorism, and other illicit Iranian actions; sanctions transfers of conventional weapons to or from Iran; and extends the expiring Iran Sanctions Act through 2026. In addition, the proposal would prohibit Iran’s financial institutions from engaging in dollar-based financial transactions with banks in third-party countries. The legislation would prevent the implementation of certain sanctions relief mandated by the Iran by amongst other measurers prevent permissible dollar transactions between Iran and the international community that are wholly outside the U.S. financial system. PAAIA’s national public opinion surveys indicate that Iranian Americans would not be supportive of efforts to undermine or derail the Iran nuclear deal. Cosponsors receive a (—) on the scorecard.

 

Primary Sponsor: Sen. Corker, Bob [R-TN]

Co-sponsors: 7

Status: Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

 


S.Res.529 – Calling on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Iranian Americans Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi

The resolution calls on the Iranian government to immediately release Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, who are dual U.S.- Iranian citizens currently detained in Iran. It calls on the Secretary of State, the allies of the United States, and the United Nations to raise the cases of Siamak and Baquer Namazi with officials of the Government of Iran at every opportunity. The resolution also encourages the Obama Administration to utilize the appropriate measures against the government of Iran if Siamak and Baquer Namazi are not released. Cosponsors receive a (+) on the scorecard.

 

Primary Sponsor: Sen. Booker, Cory [D-NJ]

Co-sponsors: 4

Status: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ordered to be Reported by Voice Vote.

 

S.2449 – Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016

The legislation would strip the discriminatory dual nationality provisions contained in the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act passed into law.  Because the visa waiver program is based on reciprocity, the reforms could potentially place reciprocal restrictions from Europe and other participating countries. Iranian Americans and other American citizens could be barred from the program solely based on their national origin. The changes proposed in the legislation will address this matter by repealing the provisions aimed at restricting certain dual nationals of the 38 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program.

 

Primary Sponsor: Flake, Jeff [R-AZ]

Co-sponsors: 3

Status: Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

 

Visa Waiver Letters – Expressing concerns over dual national provisions

There have been several Senate letters regarding the discriminatory dual nationality provisions contained in the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act passed into law.  Senators who signed the letter receive a (+) on the scorecard.

House of Representatives

Diplomacy Letter – Expressing support for diplomatic efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear program

On May 7, 2015, Democratic members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama supporting his administration’s efforts to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear agreement that will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The letter makes the case that U.S. negotiators need the time and space to build on the progress made in the interim agreement and turn it into a long-term settlement. It also highlights the concerns of lawmakers about the potential ramifications if the U.S. was to abandon negotiations or cause there collapse.

PAAIA’s national public opinion surveys indicate that Iranian Americans strongly support diplomatic initiatives to address questions about Iran’s nuclear program. Representatives who signed the letter receive a (+) on the scorecard.

 


H.R.3461 – Iran Nuclear Agreement

A bill to approve of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed at Vienna on July 14, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran. A day after the Senate secured the JCPOA, the House of Representatives in a symbolic gesture voted not to approve the Iran nuclear agreement.

PAAIA’s 2016 national public opinion survey shows that nearly two-thirds of Iranian Americans (65%) approved of the P5+1 agreement with Iran designed to place limits on Iran’s nuclear program. Those who voted for the bill have received (+) on the scorecard, while those who voted against it receive a (—). The primary sponsor of the legislation is marked.

 

Primary Sponsor: Rep. Boehner, John [R-OH]

Co-sponsors: 0

Status: Failed in the House of Representatives by Yea-Nay Vote (162-269).

 


H.R. 3741 – Commission to Verify Iranian Nuclear Compliance Act

The legislation would establish a Congressional-Executive commission to oversee the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Commission would verify Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the agreement, assess the adequacy of the safeguards and other control mechanisms contained in the agreement, and assess the capacity of the International Atomic Energy Agency to implement the verification regime. H.R.3741 would establish lasting Congressional and Executive branch coordination on the nuclear agreement and send a message to the international community that the U.S. is resolved in seeing full compliance of the agreement.

PAAIA’s 2015 national public opinion survey indicates that Iranian Americans are support of legislation that would make an Iran nuclear agreement subject to congressional oversight. Cosponsors receive a (+) on the scorecard.

 

Primary Sponsors: Rep. Connolly, Gerald [D-VA]; Rep. Hannah, Richard [R-NY]

Co-sponsors: 17

Status: Referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

H.R.4992/5119/5631 – Legislation that will roll back Iran Nuclear Deal

On the one-year anniversary of the Iran Nuclear Deal, the House of Representatives passed a series of bills that would roll back U.S. commitments to implement the international agreement. The legislation, amongst other measures, would prevent the implementation of certain sanctions relief mandated by the nuclear accord on the basis of non-nuclear activity, prohibiting permissible dollar transactions between Iran and the international community that are wholly outside the U.S. financial system, and barring U.S. purchases of “heavy water” from Iran. The Administration has threatened to veto the legislation if it clears the Senate.

PAAIA’s national public opinion surveys indicate that Iranian Americans would not be supportive of efforts to undermine or derail the Iran nuclear deal. Representatives who voted against the measure have an (+) next to their name, while those who voted for the bill receive a (—).

 

Primary Sponsors: Rep. Royce, Ed [R-CA], Rep. McCarthy, Kevin [R-CA], Rep. Pompeo, Mike [R-KS]

Co-sponsors: 59

Status: Passed the House of Representatives, currently pending in the Senate.

 


H.Res.233 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Iran should immediately release the three U.S. citizens that it holds, as well as provide all known information on any U.S. citizens that have disappeared within its borders

The resolution calls on the Iranian government to immediately release Iranian Americans Amir Hekmati, Jason Rezaian, and Saeed Abedini detained in Iran as well as provide information on U.S. citizens who have disappeared within Iran’s borders. The measure passed the House of Representatives without amendment on June 15, 2015. Cosponsors of the bill receive a (+).

 

Primary Sponsor: Kildee, Dan [D-MI]

Co-sponsors: 202

Status: Passed the House of Representatives.

 


H.Res.808 – Calling on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Iranian Americans Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi

The resolution calls on the Iranian government to immediately release Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, who are dual U.S.- Iranian citizens currently detained in Iran. It calls on President Obama, the allies of the United States, and the United Nations to raise the cases of Siamak and Baquer Namazi with officials of the Government of Iran at every opportunity. The resolution also encourages the Obama Administration to utilize the appropriate measures against the government of Iran if Siamak and Baquer Namazi are not re-leased. Cosponsors receive a (+) on the scorecard.

 

Primary Sponsors: Rep. Royce, Ed [R-CA], Rep. Connolly, Gerald [D-VA]

Co-sponsors: 16

Status: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ordered to be Reported by Voice Vote.

H.R.158 – Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist 

Travel Prevention Act of 2015

The legislation amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to include terrorism risk as a factor when deter-mining an alien’s eligibility under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to travel to the United States. VWP allows citizens of 38 participating countries to travel to the U.S., Europe, Japan and South Korea without a visa for stays of 90 days or less. The legislation excludes those with Iranian, Iraqi, Sudanese and Syrian nationality or anyone who has traveled to those countries in the past five years from using the program to enter the coun-try. Because the program is based on reciprocity, this could potentially place reciprocal restrictions from Eu-rope and other participating countries. As such, Iranian Americans could be barred from the program solely based on their national origin or for visiting family and other legitimate travel plans. Representatives who voted against the measure have an (+) next to their name while those who voted for the bill receive a (—).

 

Primary Sponsor: Rep. Miller, Candice [R-MI]

Co-sponsors: 93

Status: Passed the House of Representatives, cleared both Chambers of Congress as part of must pass omnibus bill that was signed into law by President Obama on December 18, 2015.

 


H.R.4380 – Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016

Discussed in the Senate section of this scorecard, the legislation would strip the discriminatory dual nationality provisions contained in the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 passed into law in December 2015. Cosponsors receive a (+) on the scorecard.

 

Primary Sponsor: Amash, Justin [R-MI]

Co-sponsors: 25

Status: Referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

 


H.R.5203 – Visa Integrity and Security Act of 2016

A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for new procedures pertaining to the processing of petitions and applications for immigrant or non-immigrant visas or for immigration benefits, and for other purposes. If enacted into law, the legislation would negatively impact the Iranian American community, undermine U.S. interests, and make it increasingly difficult for all immigrants and travelers to come to the United States. It includes a discriminatory provision that mandates individualized Security Advisory Opinions (SAO) on all immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants who are nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, or Yemen. This could increase the probability that people who are completely innocent will, by virtue of their nationality, be subject to unnecessary screening procedures and may be improperly barred from entering into the United States.  Cosponsors and Representatives who voted to mark-up the legislation in the House Judiciary Committee receive a (—) on the scorecard, while those who voted against the mark-up receive a (+).

 

Primary Sponsor: Forbes, Randy J. [R-VA]

Co-sponsors: 8

Status: Referred to the House Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Foreign Affairs Committees. Ordered to be Reported (Amended) out of Judiciary Committee by a margin of: 14 – 10.

H.Res.156 – Recognizing the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz

The legislation recognizes the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz and wishes Iranian Americans, the people of Iran, and all those who celebrate the holiday a prosperous new year. In addition to commem-orating the Nowruz holiday, the resolution acknowledges the “lasting contributions” of Persian civilization to the world and the “noteworthy” impact Iranian Americans have had to the social and economic fabric of America. The resolution also underscores the importance of human rights and religious tolerance not just for the people of Iran, but for people everywhere, and supports the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.  Cosponsors receive a (+) on the scorecard.

 

Primary Sponsor: Honda, Michael [D-CA]

Co-sponsors: 17

Status: Referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

 

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