On the hill

Senate votes to upgrade antisemitism special envoy to ambassador status

The envoy would require Senate confirmation and report directly to Secretary of State

U.S. Embassy in Ukraine

Former U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill by unanimous consent on Wednesday night which upgrades the status of the State Department special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. The bill now goes to the House for a final vote.

Under the new bill, the special envoy would become an ambassador-level position requiring Senate confirmation.

Per the terms of the legislation, the special envoy — a position currently held by former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney Elan Carr — would be the primary advisor and coordinator for U.S. government efforts to monitor and combat antisemitism abroad.

“I welcome the passage of this important bipartisan bill that will ensure that the U.S. remains a leader in the fight against antisemitism worldwide,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of the legislation’s original cosponsors, said in a statement. “I commend my Senate colleagues for passing this legislation, and look forward to the House quickly passing it and sending it to the president to be signed into law.” 

The bill’s other original cosponsors were Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO).

In her own statement, Rosen said, “To equip the State Department to better address rising antisemitism, it is critical that we elevate the role of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism to Ambassador-at-Large,” and that the bill will ensure “that the United States remains a leader in combating anti-Semitism internationally and has the tools needed to track and respond to this growing scourge.”

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) signed on as cosponsors after the bill was introduced.

The House passed a version of the bill, introduced by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), in January of 2019 by a vote of 411 to 1 — Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) was the only representative to vote against the legislation. 

Rubio, Gillibrand, Engel and Smith introduced similar legislation during the 115th Congress, but it did not pass the Senate during the previous term.

Outside advocates applauded the Senate for passing the legislation, with Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt calling it “an important step today to ensure that our government can better fight rising antisemitism around the world.”

American Jewish Committee Director of International Jewish Affairs Rabbi Andrew Baker concurred, saying the bill “will enable the U.S. to enhance our leadership addressing the scourge of antisemitism across the globe.”

Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament said in a separate statement, “With the passage of this legislation, the Senate is providing powerful new tools to the State Department to lead impactful international efforts to combat what has been aptly called ‘the world’s oldest form of hatred’ and roll back the tide of anti-Jewish hate.”

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