Senate approves bill including anti-BDS measures, aid to Israel
Senate approves by 77-23 majority a bill that codifies defense assistance to Israel and provides legal cover to states that target BDS.
The US Senate on Tuesday approved in a 77-23 vote a bill that codifies $38 billion in defense assistance to Israel and which provides legal cover to states that target the boycott Israel movement, JTA reports.
The Senate last week voted to advance the bill, sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
The bill’s other components reinforce the US-Jordan relationship and add sanctions on Syria’s Assad regime. All four components resurrect bills that failed to pass in the last Congress.
The bill had stirred controversy because a number of Democratic senators said that while they oppose the BDS movement, they were also concerned that state laws aimed at BDS impinged on speech freedoms.
One of the legislation’s fiercest opponents has been Independent Jewish Senator Bernie Sanders who caucuses with the Democrats. Sanders tweeted earlier this month, “It’s absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity.”
Also speaking out against the Rubio bill was newly elected Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who quoted Sanders’ tweet and added, “They forgot what country they represent. This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality.”
Among the Democratic dissenters are declared presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California. Rubio, writing Wednesday in The New York Times, defended the bill against charges that it would violate free speech.
Democrats supporting the anti-BDS component included Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), according to JTA.
Source: Israel National News