Senate BDS vote splits Democrats
The Senate voted 74-19 today to advance a broader Middle East legislative package that include the Combatting BDS Act. The bill is intended to give legal cover to state-level anti-BDS laws despite constitutional concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.
Senators have already voted on the bill three times this year but had failed to secure enough supportive Democrats amid the government shutdown. Only four Democrats had previously voted in favor. But with the shutdown resolved for the next three weeks, 24 Democrats joined their Republican colleagues in tossing a potential political hand grenade to their counterparts in the House.
Not a single one of the potential Democratic presidential candidates voted for the bill, but two were noticeably absent. Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., who backs another anti-BDS bill, did not vote. And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., joined Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in voting no.
Still, it remains unclear whether the House will put the bill on the floor. Instead of taking up the BDS debate, the Democratic-held House instead voted unanimously last week to pass a Syria sanctions component of the broader Senate package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has also separately introduced another component of the package, which would extend expedited military assistance for Jordan.