Cardin Expresses Skepticism Over House Bill Targeting Qatar for Hamas Support
WASHINGTON – Ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-MD) expressed concern over a bipartisan House legislation that would sanction Qatar for its ongoing financial support of Hamas. While the House bill has received the backing of influential lawmakers including Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Democrat Eliot Engel (D-NY), and from the chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), no Senate version of the bill has been introduced.
Cardin told Jewish Insider, that sanctioning Doha for its backing of Hamas would be problematic. The Maryland lawmaker noted that there are numerous countries who are “strategic partners of ours that are doing things that we don’t like.” Cardin is one of the most pro-Israel Senate Democrats and was one of the only members of his party to oppose the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. If Congress were to pass legislation sanctioning Qatar as the House bill proposes, Cardin explained, “I would be concerned about our policies as it relates to our strategic partners in the Gulf.”
Iran has been targeted for many years due to Tehran’s support of terror organizations across the region including Hezbollah and Hamas. H.R. 2712 is unique because it would target a longtime US ally Qatar who also hosts a major American military base. The White House has not publicly commented on the House bill. Cardin’s likely opposition to targeting Doha could play an important role in preventing advancing such a bill through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.