e-News 2/16/18

e-News 2/16/18

  • Strong Oversight of the President’s budget
  • Defending Israel’s Right to Defend Itself
  • Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act
  • The House Agrees: Intensify Efforts to Recover Missing U.S. Personnel
  • Recommended Reading: Does America Spend Too Much on Diplomacy?
  • Salute: Sparta High School Robotics Teams go to “States”!


Strong Oversight of the President’s budget

The House Appropriation Committee, which I chair, has a responsibility to evaluate and act on the blueprint the President’s has proposed for every federal agency, office and program for Fiscal Year 2019 which begins October 1.

I can assure you that our Committee is committed to our Constitutional duty to provide timely and responsible funding for all aspects of the federal government. We will carefully and thoroughly review this Fiscal Year 2019 budget request from the President, conduct strong oversight, and hold agencies accountable for the use of taxpayer funds and ask them to justify their request. The Committee will perform our own analysis and craft legislation that reflects the will of the House and the needs of the people we represent.

In other words: the President proposes, the Congress disposes.  We have the “power of the purse.”

To meet the latest deadline of March 23, our Committee is working rapidly to complete work of the current 2018 Fiscal Year. We are currently negotiating with our Senate counterparts with the goal of completing these long-overdue bills before the March 23rd deadline. We look forward to moving this essential legislation to the President’s desk and having it signed into law.

For more information on the Administration’s budget proposal for FY ’19, please click here.

The House Budget Committee conducted a hearing Wednesdaymorning, taking testimony from OMB Director Mick Mulvaney.  You can watch the hearing here.

Defending Israel’s Right to Defend Itself

Tensions flared in the Middle East this week after Iran sent an unmanned drone from Syria into Israeli airspace.  Israel responded by launching significant airstrikes against Syrian air defense positions.  During one of the strikes, an Israeli F-16 was shot down. 

In response to Iran's aggression, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

"I have been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran's military entrenchment in Syria.  Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel. . .  And this demonstrates that our warnings were 100% correct. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security."

The response from the U.S. government was clear.  The White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:

"Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria.  We call on Iran and its allies to cease provocative actions and work toward regional peace."

The reality is that Iran has been emboldened and enriched by the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPO), also known as the Iran Nuclear deal, negotiated by the last Administration.  During the months-long talks:

  • No attempt was made in pursuit of that deal to force Iran to change its behavior around the world;  
  • Sanctions relief was not contingent upon Iran renouncing its support for terrorism;
  • Sanctions relief was not dependent upon Iran ending its ballistic missile program;

Instead, Iran got virtually everything it sought, including the end of tough global sanctions, which generated a huge financial windfall for Tehran's massive military buildup.

Retired Ambassador Dennis Ross has advised presidents of both parties, and was at the center of U.S. Middle East peace efforts under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  He also served as special advisor to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

His latest column in the New York Daily News is worth a read.

Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act

Last June, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) discovered Hamas tunnels under two of its schools in Gaza, demonstrating how Hamas knowingly integrates terrorist operations in civilian resources.

This week the House also passed H.R. 3542, the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act, which sanctions Hamas for violating human rights standards by using civilians as human shields. This bipartisan legislation was introduced by Congressman Joe Wilson (SC) and Congressman Seth Moulton (MA).

As the world faces the threat of Hamas terrorists, the House took a strong stand against the atrocity of using civilians as human shields.  This legislation can help ensure the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians are spared by proactively imposing strong sanctions against Hamas.

Read the text of the bill here.

The House Agrees: Intensify Efforts to Recover Missing U.S. Personnel

One week after I met with the Director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to offer my support, the House approved a resolution calling on the Department of Defense, other elements of the Federal Government, and foreign governments to intensify efforts to investigate, recover, and identify all missing and unaccounted-for personnel of the United States. 

The measure was introduced by Rep. Sam Johnson, a true American hero.  45 years ago this week, Sam, a combat pilot, returned home to his beloved family and country after seven years as a prisoner-of-war (42 months in solitary confinement) in Hanoi, North Vietnam.

With respect to recovering and accounting for our missing personnel, time is not on our side and I was pleased to vote for Sam’s resolution.

Read the text of the resolution House Resolution 129 here

Recommended Reading: Does America Spend Too Much on Diplomacy?  In a column in The Foreign Service Journal, Barbara Stephenson explores this question through the lens of the National Security Strategy.

Salute: Congratulations to five Sparta High School Robotics teams which will soon compete in the statewide competition in Cherry Hill later this month.  The Sparta High Teams 5249S, entering its robot named Tyrannosaurus VEX, and 5249D, with its robot Bjorn, were the stars of a recent regional robotics competition at Millburn High School in early February.  Three other Sparta teams qualified for “states” at earlier tournaments!

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