10/30 Paulsen Correspondence Corner : Ignoring the Russia-Hizballah Connection

PREFACE :
Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed.
The MN Political Roundtable will be evaluating Congressman Paulsen’s responses and encouraging readers to offer their own assessments.

Today’s topic: H.R.3329 – HIZBALLAH INTERNATIONAL FINANCING PREVENTION AMENDMENTS ACT OF 2017

Tomorrow’s topic: H.R.2142 — INTERDICT Act


After another break, Congressman Erik Paulsen issued a new Correspondence Corner video.
Prior to getting to what his constituents were asking about, Congressman Paulsen hyped the upcoming “tax reform” proposal the Republican-controlled House will soon announce.

Interestingly, Congressman Paulsen reminded his constituents of some of his recent tweets

Hmmm … 31 years … 1986 … so, let’s remember at that time, the Estate Tax provided an exemption for the first $600,000 (increased from $500,000) while maintaining the tax rate at 55%. For 2017, the estate and gift tax exemption is $5.49 million per individual and after which a 40% federal estate tax rate applies.
Yep, somehow the “death tax” has been cut over the years, so let’s not kid anyone, while there has not been a true “tax reform”, there has been “tax cuts” … at least for some.
Now, Congressman Paulsen wants to eliminate the estate tax (if not this year, in the next two or three years.)

OK … let’s get to the issues that Congressman Paulsen addressed — asking the questions:
1. What doesn’t he say
2. Would anyone else representing Minnesota’s Third District vote differently.

First issue … an email from Gail of Wayzata … who may have read suggestion from The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is a lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies, encouraging contacting Members to support The Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017 … citing

Hezbollah’s weapons stockpile includes as many as 150,000 rockets and missiles, and the terrorist organization could launch up to 1,500 rockets per day at Israel in a future war.

FYI : AIPAC has for years provided “gift trips” to Members to visit Israel … the most recent trip during the August “district work period” was lead by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy who was joined by fellow Republicans (Robert Aderholt, Jamie Herrara Beutler, Drew Ferguson, Tom Graves, Jeb Hensarling, David Kustoff, Robert Pittenger, Steve Russell, Michael Simpson, Mac Thornberry, David Valadao, and others.) Congressman Paulsen has previously visited Israel on other paid-for trips. Members have been known to take their spouses or children (even a Member of Congress might find it difficult not to swim naked in the Sea of Galilee)

You might be amazed by this … but Congressman Paulsen indicated that he supported H.R. 3329 noting that the House had just approved it.

Good, huh !
Well, let’s consider the fact that the House bill was passed via voice vote … and although there were 115 sponsors, Congressman Paulsen was not one.
Yep, Congressman Paulsen is a spinmaster. And logically, since there is broad bipartisan support, it’s realistic to think that anyone representing the Third District would have not objected.

What Congressman Paulsen didn’t say was that the House elected to pass its own bill weeks after the Senate had already approved Senator Amy Klobuchar-sponsored version (S1595) weeks earlier.
So now, each Chamber can consider the other Chamber’s bill … or a conference committee could be called. The reality is that the Republican-controlled Congress does not have its act together.

OK … so what’s in the bill.
And to get that, a little history is in order.
Hizballah has been designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State since 1997 and last session, Congress enacted H.R.2297 – Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015.
This bill would further restrict Hezbollah’s ability to raise funds and recruit; increase pressure on banks to not do business with Hezbollah; and, punish foreign states for supporting Hezbollah.

Hizballah has received sophisticated military, training, and financial assistance from Iran, Syria, and Russia.

Yep, Russia … as The Times of Israel reports Thanks in no small part to Russia, Hezbollah is now a full-fledged army.
In fact, the legislation requires the Trump Administration to assess Russian involvement:

Report on Significant Material Support and Arms or Related Materiel Provided by the Russian Federation to Hizballah.–
(1) In general.–Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that contains the following:
(A) A description of significant material support and arms or related material that the Government of the Russian Federation has, on or after the date of the enactment of this Act, knowingly, directly or indirectly, provided to Hizballah or an entity owned or controlled by Hizballah.
(B) An analysis of the extent to which Russian strategic weapons deployed in Syria, including air defense systems, have provided protection for Hizballah fighters in Syria.
(C) An assessment of whether Russian counter- proliferation safeguards can ensure that any arms or related materiel described in subparagraph (A) will not be used against Israel in the future.

Considering President Trump’s delaying the implementation of sanctions on the Russia defense and intelligence sectors, as stipulated in H.R. 3364 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, ya gotta wonder if President Trump will do what the House is requiring him to do.

Leading to the question, if President Trump continues to protect Russia, will Congressman Paulsen stand up to him ?

In summary, Congressman Paulsen is once again trying to present an image of a Congress that is doing something … and responding to his constituents’ requests. When it is actuality, after a lobbying group pays for a trip, the House passes legislation that they want. The legislation will provide for financial sanctions, yet considering the lobbying influence that is now being revealed via the Paul Manafort / Rick Gates / George Papadopoulos / Sam Clovis stories, ya gotta wonder if President Trump would ever sanction Russia.

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