House Democrats vote down Republican motion on BDS

12 Democrats broke party ranks to vote in favor of the motion

House Republicans pushed for a motion to recommit on specific anti-BDS legislation on Thursday.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, offered a Motion to Recommit (MTR), a tool frequently used by the minority party to add items to the majority’s bills on the House floor, to introduce an amendment that would increase reporting requirements for individuals or entities engaged in BDS.

“I have worked for three years to hammer out a bipartisan approach to stopping the BDS movement, that got rolled into the bill that was passed in January in the Senate. Seventy-seven senators joined together and sent a bill over here to the house. We’ve waited four months with no vote, on that bill,” McHenry said.

While the motion failed, 12 Democrats broke party ranks to vote in favor of the Motion, including Reps. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Kendra Horn (D-OK), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Max Rose (D-NY), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) and Susan Wild (D-PA).

“I guess you could say that I am intolerant of any anti-Israel sentiment,” Rep. Van Drew told Jewish Insider. “I’m just tired of it. Because of that, when an issue like this comes up, it’s a way you can show your support for Israel and show your lack of support for anybody that would attack Israel in any way.”

Republicans frame their move as standing up against antisemitism and in support of Israel, yet cause frustration in the Democratic party when bringing anti-BDS legislation to the floor.

“That’s something we’re going to have to speak more about in the future as an entire caucus,” Rep. Van Drew said, referencing anti-BDS legislation and the Republican discharge petition, “that leadership would get such a bill on the floor and that we would have the opportunity to vote on it.”

Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) condemned the tactic of the MTR, but said she voted Yes to send a message.

“For the most part I believe these procedural tactics distract from the overall legislation,” she wrote in an email to JI. “But I voted in favor of today’s motion to send a message on this issue – the BDS movement is harmful to Israel and ultimately undermines our national security.”

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), was one of five Democrats to vote with the Republican MTR on the Yemen bill. At the time, he told JI, “This is a matter of principle for me. I have always stood strong against antisemitism and always will.”

Other Democrats have earlier criticized MTR attempts by Republicans on antisemitism and Israel as cynical and an effort to treat support for the Jewish State as a political cudgel.  

“I am also deeply disturbed by the Republican party’s repeated efforts to turn support for Israel in our country into a partisan issue,” Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), said in a statement following the defeat of a Republican MTR on antisemitism, that would have killed a Yemen war powers resolution. “If these irresponsible attacks continue, Americans will become increasingly divided on something that Democrats and Republicans have long agreed on.”

Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), gave the rebuttal speech on the House floor Thursday.

“This is cute, this is not clever,” he said. “For years I wore a bracelet for the refuseniks who wished from Russia to emigrate to Israel. There is no weakness on our part in support of the State of Israel on this side of the aisle… Set aside the demagoguery and turn down this Motion to Recommit.”

Editor’s note: This post has been updated.