House GOP Chair Liz Cheney urges bipartisan vote on anti-BDS bill
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the House Republican Conference Chair, urged Speaker Pelosi to bring an anti-BDS measure for a vote in a floor speech on Wednesday.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, known as S.1, last Tuesday, by a vote of 77-23. The legislation reauthorizes the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding signed between the U.S. and Israel in 2016 and empowers state and local governments to counter the BDS movement.
“Helping our key allies in the Middle East ensure their security should not be controversial,” said Cheney, urging the Democrats to pass the House version (H.R. 336) in a bipartisan manner. “We are now at a moment in this body, where we are facing real anti-Semitism from the other side of the aisle. It is time Madam Speaker, that we all come together as a body in a bipartisan manner to stand against anti-Semitism, to condemn it, to ensure that everyone understands it has no place in this House, in this body, or in our public discourse.”
Read Cheney’s full remarks below:
“Madame Speaker, if we defeat the previous question, we will move to bring up H.R. 336, Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019. I urge the House to vote on this bill, whose companion passed the Senate with bipartisan support this month.
“Bringing this legislation to the floor, Madame Speaker, is not a partisan maneuver. It is an urgent matter of national security that requires action by this House. H.R. 336 includes two bills that enhance our security cooperation with Israel and Jordan, key U.S. allies in the Middle East that are active in the fight against terror groups in the region. H.R. 336 also reaffirms America’s unwavering support for Israel with the Combating BDS Act, a bill that empowers state and local governments to counter discriminatory anti-Israel boycotts.
“There should be no doubt, Madame Speaker, about the bipartisan nature of each of these bills. The Israel security assistance legislation passed the House by voice vote in September. The Jordan defense cooperation bill passed the House by voice vote last February. The Syria sanctions bill passed the House by voice vote just last month. And last Congress, Senator Marco Rubio’s Combating BDS Act gained the support of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and a number of other Democrats on the Senate side.
“Most Democratic Members continue to stand with Republicans in rejecting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. These Members understand, as the Republicans do, that this is a campaign that too often seeks to delegitimize and demonize Israel. So, Madame Speaker, why not hold a vote on H.R. 336, that contains a bill called the Combating BDS Act?
“BDS is a campaign whose adherents have time and time again revealed their anti-Semitic motives. This is a campaign that directs its followers to avoid certain products merely because they are made in Israel. Armed with economic warfare tactics, supporters of BDS seek to isolate and punish the only Jewish State. That, Madame Speaker, is the dictionary definition of discrimination.
“Opponents of the Combating BDS Act often cite First Amendment objections to this legislation. But the truth is, this bill would not prohibit individuals or companies from speaking out in support of the BDS movement. Nor would it prohibit them from boycotting Israel. The Combating BDS Act applies to entities, such as companies, and their conduct.
“This bill cements what should be an obvious point: states have the right not to contract with companies that engage in discriminatory conduct against Israel. In fact, many states already have laws on the books promoting that right. At its core, the Combating BDS Act protects and empowers states in their efforts to counter a hateful anti-Israel movement.
“There is no reason not to hold a vote on H.R. 336. It also includes legislation that authorizes security assistance to Israel and extends our defense partnership with Jordan.
“Helping our key allies in the Middle East ensure their security should not be controversial. Standing up against discriminatory, anti-Israel boycotts should not be controversial. And, Madame Speaker, we are now at a moment in this House, at a moment in this body, where we are facing real anti-Semitism from the other side of the aisle. It is time Madam Speaker, that we all come together as a body in a bipartisan manner to stand against anti-Semitism, to condemn it, to ensure that everyone understands it has no place in this House, in this body, or in our public discourse.
“These bills that we are offering today if the previous question is defeated are those bills that will recognize and symbolize American leadership, and define American leadership. I hope Democrats will choose our security and our closest allies over partisanship and bring H.R. 336 to a vote.”