Israel anti-boycott bill becomes partisan casualty in first vote of new Senate
The Senate on Tuesday failed 56-44 to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to advance the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Only four Democrats voted to advance the package after Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., instructed his caucus to vote no on any legislation that does not address the weekslong government shutdown. Still, the historically nonpartisan American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) called on lawmakers to advance the bill as quickly as possible, making its most partisan legislative push since it urged lawmakers to vote against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. Conversely, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is lobbying against the bill, arguing that it encourages states to pass unconstitutional laws infringing on free-speech rights.
Rubio’s legislation also codifies a 10-year, $38 billion aid agreement with Israel into law, extends expedited military aid for Jordan and sanctions supporters of the Syrian government.
Shutdown politics aside, the bill has highlighted substantive divisions among Democrats. Schumer and other Democrats support anti-BDS legislation, but Republicans have pointed to two new House members – Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. – who openly support BDS. Nonetheless, most Democrats opposed to anti-boycott bills on civil liberties grounds still oppose the BDS movement.
For more on Tuesday's vote, read Bryant Harris' report from Capitol Hill here.
- Bryant Harris