A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

H.R. 1388 Passed ‘Behind Our Backs?’

Q: Was H.R. 1388 passed “behind our backs”?

A: This latest e-rumor is a double-header. It recycles one false claim and alludes to another. We’ve debunked both before.



I have received three of these from different sources. It sounds fishy to me.

Your comments would be appreciated.

Very Important Notice

[EET ]

Whether you are an Obama fan, or not, EVERYONE IN THE U. S. needs to know….

Something happened… H.R. 1388 was passed yesterday, behind our backs. You may want to read about it. It wasn’t mentioned on the news… just went by on the ticker tape at the bottom of the CNN screen.

Obama funds $20M in tax payer dollars to immigrate Hamas Refugees to the USA. This is the news that didn’t make the headlines…

By executive order, President Barack Obama has ordered the expenditure of $20.3 million in “migration assistance” to the Palestinian refugees and “conflict victims” in Gaza.

The “presidential determination”, which allows hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with ties to Hamas to resettle in the United States, was signed on January 27 and appeared in the Federal Register on February 4.

Few on Capitol Hill, or in the media, took note that the order provides a free ticket replete with housing and food allowances to individuals who have displayed their overwhelming support to the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the parliamentary election of January 2006.

Let’s review…itemized list of some of Barack Obama’s most recent actions since his inauguration:

His first call to any head of state, as president, was to Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah party in the Palestinian territory.

His first one-on-one television interview with any news organization was with Al Arabia television.

His first executive order was to fund/facilitate abortion(s) not just here within the U. S., but within the world, using U. S. tax payer funds.

He ordered Guantanamo Bay closed and all military trials of detainees halted.

He ordered overseas CIA interrogation centers closed.

He withdrew all charges against the masterminds behind the USS Cole and the “terror attack” on 9/11.

Now we learn that he is allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refuges to move to, and live in, the US at American taxpayer expense.

These important, and insightful, issues are being “lost” in the blinding bail-outs and “stimulation” packages.

Doubtful? To verify this for yourself: www.thefederalregister.com/d.p/2009-02-04-E9-2488


WE are losing this country at a rapid pace.[/EET]


No Secret

To start, the claim that H.R. 1388 was passed “behind our backs” is false, and the bill had nothing to do with Palestinian refugees in any case.

H.R. 1388 actually expands AmeriCorps and other federal public service programs, more than tripling the total number of positions to 250,000. It got lots of publicity as it worked its way through Congress, including a widely reprinted Associated Press story on March 31 when the House cleared the final version for the president’s signature. The headline: “Congress Expands Ways for Americans to Help Others.”

President Obama later signed the measure at a public ceremony that also got plenty of publicity. The idea that Congress was trying to slip something through unnoticed, or that the news media ignored it, is wrong.

False Claims

The author, we conclude, is alluding to false claims about H.R. 1388 that had been circulating previously on the Internet. We exposed these e-rumors in an Ask FactCheck item we posted March 31. In summary, it said:

Q: Is Congress creating a mandatory public service system? Are participants not allowed to go to church?

A: The national service bill does not mandate that youth must participate nor does it forbid anyone who does participate from going to church.

For full details, click through to read the entire item, which we won’t repeat here.

The e-mail message is mainly devoted to repeating a second false rumor that we had taken on in another Ask FactCheck item on Feb. 19. In summary we said:

Q: Did Obama pay for Hamas-affiliated terrorists to emigrate to the United States?

A: This claim is false. The president’s memorandum to the State Department would pay for refugee assistance in Gaza, not for transporting anyone to the U.S.

Again, consult the full article for more on the Hamas falsehood.


The remainder of the e-mail is a mix of truth and half-truths.

Partly true: It’s true that Palestinian leader Abbas was among the first leaders to receive a telephone call from Obama on the day after he took office. Obama also called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, to signal a determination to press for peace in the region.

The claim that Abbas got a call before the others, however, rests on a statement by Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, who quoted Obama as saying: “This is my first phone call to a foreign leader, and I’m making it only hours after I took office.” We can’t confirm whether or not that part is true. And in any case, as the New York Daily News reported quoting diplomatic sources, “[W]ho a President phones first when he makes a flurry of calls is more often a matter of scheduling and availability, not favoritism.”

True: It’s true that Obama’s first formal TV interview after taking office was with Al Arabiya. He said peace talks should resume, and also said, “My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy.”

Partly True: It is not entirely true that Obama’s “first executive order” facilitates abortions. What the author is referring to is a presidential memorandum (different from an executive order) that was signed Jan. 23. It overturned a policy that was first established by Ronald Reagan, rescinded by Bill Clinton and reimposed by George W. Bush. The so-called “Mexico City Policy” had cut off foreign aid money to any private aid group that provided advice, counseling or information regarding abortion, even if they used their own money for those purposes.

As CNN reported, the result of the order is to allow U.S. money to flow to “clinics that promote abortion or provide counseling or referrals about abortion services.”  But Obama had signed at least half a dozen executive orders and presidential memoranda before getting to this one, so it was by no means his “first.” For the record, Obama said in his memo that the restrictions he overturned “have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning programs in foreign nations.”

True: It is true that on Jan. 22 Obama ordered the Guantanamo prison facility to be “closed as soon as practicable” and no later than Jan. 22, 2010. The same order also halted all trials of detainees before military commissions set up during the Bush administration. On the same day he ordered CIA interrogation centers closed down and required that questioning of detainees follow the Army Field Manual.

Partly True: As a consequece of Obama’s shutting down trials by military commission, a judge did drop charges against terrorist suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. But the charges were dismissed “without prejudice,” meaning that they can be reinstated at a later date. So the claim that the president “withdrew all charges” is misleading.

–Brooks Jackson


Congress Expands Ways For Americans To Help Others.” Associated Press. 31 Mar 2009.

Obama Signs National Service Legislation.” CNN.com. 22 Apr 2009.

Sisk, Richard. “New President Barack Obama jumps in on Mideast and stirs a phone flap.” New York Daily News. 21 Jan 2009.

Obama tells Al Arabiya peace talks should resume.” Al Arabia news channel. 27 Jan 2009.

Executive Order 13492 of January 22, 2009; Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained At the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities.” Federal Register. 27 Jan 2009: 4897.

Executive Order 13491 of January 22, 2009; Ensuring Lawful Interrogations.” Federal Register. 27 Jan 2009: 4893.

Tapper, Jake. “Military Commission Charges Dropped Against Terrorist Suspect Al-Nashiri.” ABCNews.com. 5 Feb 2009.

Obama reverses abortion-funding policy.” CNN.com. 24 Jan 2009.