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November 30, 2015 / 18 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Blumenthal’

Post-Bibi Bipartisanship May Result in Congressional Ability to Review Iran Deal

Friday, March 6th, 2015

In what may be the most significant direct result of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session of Congress last Tuesday, March 3, Democrats and Republicans are now within spitting distance of  ensuring that Congress will be able to review the details of the nuclear capabilities agreement the administration and the other members of the P5+1 are currently negotiating with Iran.

Just a few days ago it did not look as if any bipartisan breakthrough was in the cards any time soon, especially given several real tangles between the parties before, during and immediately after Netanyahu’s speech.

The Israeli prime minister’s speech to Congress became, despite Netanyahu’s claimed efforts to avoid that to the contrary, a wildly partisan mosh pit, with allegations of disrespect hurled at Netanyahu by certain Democrats and allegations of anti-Semitism smeared on those who refused to attend.

But Democrats and Republicans escorted Netanyahu into the chambers, and there was enthusiastic applause for the Israeli head of state from nearly everyone in the room (Rep. Pelosi’s very public meltdown notwithstanding).

And then, just a few hours after the address, Netanyahu met with a small bipartisan group of Senators in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.

That meeting included Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

But the boxing match bells went off signaling yet another round when Sen. McConnell (R-KY) announced later on Tuesday that he intended to call a vote next week on proposed legislation which would require congressional approval of any deal with Iran.

That legislation, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, had been introduced by Sen. Corker (R-TN) last Friday, Feb. 27.

INARA would delay the lifting of sanctions on Iran and block the implementation of any agreement between Iran and the P5+1 at least until after a period of Congressional review takes place.

The Democratic co-sponsors of that legislation were infuriated by McConnell’s move. They said they understood there had been an agreement to wait to bring the bill up for a vote until after the March 24 framework deadline for the negotiating parties.

Nine Senate Democrats and one Independent (Angus King, of Maine) who had supported the congressional approval legislation penned a curt letter to McConnell, which was sent on Wednesday, March 4

The letter was signed by Sen. Menendez (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and others, and informed McConnell that there was no need to rush the bill out for a vote, as no final agreement with Iran was expected before the end of June.

“We remain committed to working on this bill in a bipartisan manner,” the senators informed McConnell, but they warned him, “we will only vote for this bill after it has gone through the regular mark-up process in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and after the March 24the deadline for the political framework agreement.”

Without the support of the Democrats who signed the letter, there is no way the INARA could survive President Obama’s promise of a presidential veto.

McConnell, ceding to the wishes of the Democrats who are willing to support INARA, so long as the timing is right, chose to undo his decision to call up INARA for a vote next week.

As a result of McConnell’s concession, INARA won the support of an additional four Senate Democrats: Chuck Schumer (NY), Ben Cardin (Maryland), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) and Chris Coons (Delaware).

In other words, this exercise in bipartisan cooperation means that INARA is now only three votes away from a veto-proof majority, and with lots more time to seek additional supporters.

Senate Urges State Dept. to Renegotiate Terms for Iraqi Jewish Archive

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

The Senate unanimously urged the State Department to renegotiate the terms for the return to Iraq of an archive of Iraqi Jewish texts.

The resolution passed Thursday “strongly urges” the department to renegotiate the agreement with the Iraqi government “in order to ensure that the Iraqi Jewish Archive be kept in a place where its long-term preservation and care can be guaranteed.”

The nonbinding resolution also “recognizes that the Iraqi Jewish Archive should be housed in a location that is accessible to scholars and to Iraqi Jews and their descendants who have a personal interest in it.”

The resolution was initiated by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

U.S. troops uncovered the archive in the Iraqi secret service headquarters in Baghdad in 2003, much of it waterlogged.

Iraqi agents under Saddam Hussein had looted many of the articles after the dictator had driven the remnants of the Jewish community out of the country in a terror campaign.

Under an agreement with the Coalition Provisional Authority that had governed Iraq, the materials were sent to the United States where experts, led by a National Archives team, restored them.

Iraqi Jews in Israel, the United States, Britain and elsewhere oppose its return to Iraq under the agreement, saying the government now in place is not sympathetic to Jewish interests and would not make it available.

The archive, now on display at the National Archives in Washington D.C., is due to be returned in June.

Jewish groups, including the Orthodox Union, the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, praised the Senate for passing the resolution.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/senate-urges-state-dept-to-renegotiate-terms-for-iraqi-jewish-archive/2014/02/09/

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