On May 9th, 2018 the day after President Trump announced the administration’s decision to exit the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) better known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, seven members of the Congressional Breakfast Club of To Protect Our Heritage PAC spent the day in Washington. Initially the day was planned as an opportunity to advocate on behalf of a stronger US Israel alliance with members of Congress.
In a conference call prior to the trip and at our first meeting of the day with a member of the AIPAC lobbying staff we decided to concentrate on four specific issues. The first was to eliminate the flaws in the Iran Nuclear deal. Lax verifiable inspections, development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, Iran regional malign activities and the sunset clauses in the current deal are either inadequate or non-existing. Regardless of whether you thought we should stay in the deal or get out, the important thing is to devise a strategy that will make sure that the goal is that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon or a means to deliver one. We lobbied the members of Congress to use maximum pressure by instituting crippling financial sanctions both directly against Iran and secondary sanctions against companies and countries who deal with Iran. All the members of Congress that we spoke to Democrats and Republicans agreed with goal and were just debating what the best way to realize the goal under the new conditions.
In addition to the sanctions on Iran we asked the members to co-sponsor a new bill just introduced by Rep. Lipinski and Roskam entitled the Iranian Military and Terror Financing Reporting Act. This bill requires the State Department to periodically report to Congress on how much money Iran is expanding outside its borders to support military and terrorist activities.
Israel prides itself that it defends itself by itself, we asked our members to support the US-Israel Security Assistance Act of 2018. This bill in both the House and the Senate Authorizes Israel to receive $3.8 Billion dollars in military assistance to help defend itself against many threats including its northern border, emerging threats, cyber, ballistic missiles, tunnels and drones. It also allows the Department of Defense to increase the stockpile of weapons housed in Israel from $1 billion dollars to $2 Billion dollars. In emergencies Israel can draw down US military equipment stockpiled there.
We shared with members of Congress pictures of Hamas pushing young children to the front of their demonstrations at the Gaza border. We thanked the members of the House of representatives who voted 415 to 0 for passing the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act and urged the Senators to do likewise.
Most of our meetings were in a bipartisan spirit to ensure wide maximum support for the US Israel alliance. We had lunch with six members of the Illinois House Delegation, three Democrats and three Republicans. The lunch was hosted by Rep. Lipinski a Democrat and Rep. Hultgren a Republican. We met with the Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee and the ranking member. Chairman Royce a Republican and the ranking member Rep. Engel a Democrat. Dinner was with Senator Peters of Michigan a Democrat and member of the Armed Services Committee and Sen. Boozman of Arkansas a Republican and member of the Appropriations Committee.
To be in Washington on the day after the President’s announcement and speaking to Senators and Representatives about increasing pressure on Iran was both historic, impactful and satisfying.