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Issue Position: Middle East

Issue Position

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Howard has been one of the boldest and most effective Congressional voices in support of close US-Israeli relations since his first days in office. As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee from 2008-2010, and now as its top Democrat, he's been the recognized leader of annual efforts to whip Members of the House to support full funding for aid to Israel.

Israel is our strongest and most reliable ally in the region, so it's critical that we do everything possible to support Israeli security, including its efforts to defend against terrorism and conventional military threats. That's why Howard authored legislation that requires the U.S. government to justify in writing every arms sale to an Arab country and, specifically, to demonstrate to Congress that the sale won't erode Israel's ability to defeat any combination of its potential enemies. Supporting Israel's "qualitative military edge" had been a Presidential policy of choice since the Johnson Administration, but Howard made it the law of the land. He co-authored a 2009 resolution in the wake of the Gaza War strongly affirming U.S. support for Israel's right of self-defense, wrote legislation that would deny assistance to Lebanon when Hezbollah is part of the ruling coalition, and helped pass legislation in 2010 that opposes unilateral Palestinian attempts to declare statehood outside of a negotiated settlement with Israel.

Howard is also the recognized Congressional leader in fighting Iran's effort to develop nuclear weapons. He has authored or been the leading Democratic co-sponsor of every significant law imposing sanctions on Iran since the very first, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) of 1996. In 2010, he authored and steered through Congress the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), which imposes the toughest and most comprehensive financial and energy-related sanctions on Iran. President Obama signed the bill into law on July 1, 2010. The timing of the bill's passage, masterfully orchestrated by Howard, paved the way for the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, and many individual countries to impose their own sanctions on Iran.

Howard is the leading Democratic co-sponsor of H.R. 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act, which passed the House in December 2011. The central element of that bill is a measure authored by Howard to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran, Iran's primary link to the international financial community. If that measure becomes law, the Iranian economy is likely to suffer a severe setback, and maximize pressure on the Iranian regime's leadership to abandon its nuclear weapons program.


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