Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017

June 18, 2015
December 16, 2016
Became Public Law

This bill would have authorized several reforms to the State Dept.’s core operations and diplomacy programs and strengthened protections for U.S. embassies and foreign service members. It carried several provisions related to alleged anti-Semitism on the part of the PA, the UN, and Iran.

First, the bill would have required the Obama administration to present to Congress a new Middle East strategy in light of a final nuclear agreement with Iran, including descriptions of any efforts to counter Iranian-sponsored terrorism in the region; reassure U.S. allies and partners in the region; and address the potential for a regional arms race. Furthermore, the bill would have established a treasury fund for U.S. citizens taken hostage in Iran in 1979, to be funded by fines imposed on Iran sanction-busters. Former hostages would be entitled to payments of $6,750 per day spent in captivity while spouses of former hostages would each be allotted a $600,000-lump sum (similar versions of this provision were introduced as separate measures, H.R. 3338 of 7/29/15 and S. 868 of 3/26/15).

Citing the anti-incitement provision of the 1995 Oslo II agreement, the text of the draft bill expressed ‘support and admiration’ for anyone working to ‘encourage cooperation between Israeli Jews and Palestinians,’ reiterated the legislators’ condemnation of what was called anti-Semitism and anti-Israel incitement in the PA, and urged Pres. Mahmoud Abbas and other PA officials to end such incitement.

Furthermore, the administration would be required to submit an annual report on all UN activities ‘that can be construed to exhibit an anti-Semitic bias,’ the use of UN resources to promote anti-Semitism or anti-Israel rhetoric, and the actions taken by the U.S. government to combat the abovementioned activities.

After this bill passed the Senate Foreign Relations Comm. (SFRC) on 6/9, the committee announced that Sen. Corker (R-TN) and Sen. Cardin (D-MD) were offering the full text of the bill as an amendment to the NDAA (see S.A. 1983 on H.R. 1735 of 4/13/15), which was being debated on the Senate floor at that time and was seen as having a greater chance of passing into law. See that measure for further action.

During the SRFC’s consideration of this bill, Sen. Paul (R-KY) proposed an amendment identical to his Stand with Israel Act of 2015 (S. 633 of 3/3/15); it was defeated by a vote of 14–5.


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