House to vote on sanctioning International Criminal Court officials next week

The vote is likely to be yet another divisive test for Democrats reluctant to put themselves at odds with the Biden administration

Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

United States Capitol building

The House is set to vote next week on legislation to sanction the International Criminal Court and its officials over their pursuit of arrest warrants for Israeli officials, days after the Biden administration announced it wouldn’t support such a step.

While lawmakers had been working to build a strong bipartisan consensus on a response to the ICC, with legislation that could pass both chambers and be signed into law, the administration’s announcement likely put that goal out of reach.

This week’s vote is now likely to be yet another divisive vote for Democrats reluctant to put themselves publicly at odds with the administration’s position on Israel. It’s being brought forward under procedures requiring a simple majority vote, and bypassing the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Democratic leadership has been increasingly outspoken against Republicans for bringing up such votes, accusing them of politicizing Israel policy and using it and antisemitism as a wedge issue against Democrats.

The sanctions bill, led by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), is currently cosponsored by more than 60 Republicans, but no Democrats. At least a small group of Democrats is likely to support it, however — 19 of them signed a letter to the administration on Thursday calling on the administration “ consult with Congress to immediately impose sanctions against the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan and any other officials who have demonstrated undue bias in their actions.”

Top Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), had condemned the administration for its opposition to sanctions.

The bill, the “Illegitimate Court Counteraction Act” — copying the court’s own acronym — would impose sanctions on any individual who has “engaged in or otherwise aided any effort by the International Criminal Court to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute” current or former U.S. officials or officials from any U.S. ally nation, as well as anyone who has in any way assisted those efforts, anyone acting on behalf of anyone involved in such investigations and immediate family members of all such individuals.

The sanctions would include blocking of property in the U.S., visa bans and revocation of active visas. The sanctions would remain in place until the ICC’s efforts ended and the investigations are permanently terminated.

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