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Funding call

Senators call for increased funding, staffing for antisemitism envoy’s office

The letter, with a record 33 signatories, follows a similar effort among House members

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) speaks to members of the press after a weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol May 10, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Thirty-three senators pressed Senate Appropriations Committee leaders on Wednesday to increase funding and staffing for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism.

The letter calling for the funding increase, which was obtained by Jewish Insider, follows a similar call from 83 House members for $2 million in funding for the office as well as new measures to ensure continuity across administrations, reflecting concerns from both chambers of Congress that the office is under-resourced.

The letter was led by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and joined by 32 other lawmakers — 30 Democrats and two Republicans, Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND). It represents the highest total yet for such a letter in the Senate; 28 senators, including Rounds, signed onto a similar letter to increase funding for the special envoy’s office in 2022. 

The letter notes that “antisemitism remains a serious and growing danger for Jews in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere in the world,” arguing that the additional funding would “support the Special Envoy’s efforts to improve the safety and security of at-risk Jewish communities, ensure public officials and faith leaders condemn antisemitic discourse, and ensure adequate staffing for the Special Envoy to coordinate and assist in developing the reports on antisemitism within the State Department’s annual Human Rights Reports and International Religious Freedom Report,” as well as enable specialization within the office.

The letter’s call for $2 million in funding for the office in 2024 matches the House request, and would represent a $500,000 budget increase for the office if met. It also outpaces the Biden administration’s $1.7 million request.

As with the House letter, the Senate letter asks that Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), respectively the chair and ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, request that the State Department provide a plan to ensure staffing continuity between administrations and in periods when no envoy has been confirmed — highlighting difficulties that the office faced while the special envoy post was vacant for the first year of the Biden administration.

Additional signatories to the letter include Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Ed Markey (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Cramer, Hickenlooper, Cardin, Lujan, Welch and Klobuchar did not sign onto last year’s letter. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), who signed on last year, did not sign on this year. Cramer signed a similar letter in 2021.

The letter was supported by the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federations of North America and American Jewish Coalition.

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