U.S. Senate's First Bill, in the Midst of the Shutdown, Is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government From Boycotts

Greenwald, Glenn; Grim, Ryan

Publisher:  The Intercept
Date Written:  05/01/2019
Year Published:  2019  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23264

This Senate's first bill of 2019 considers giving state and local governments the power to punish companies that boycott Israel. These laws have been found to be unconstitutional but still have bipartisan support.



In the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered - S.1 - is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It's not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign policy-related measures, the main one of which is a provision - with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor - to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

In the previous Congress, that measure was known as S.170, and it gives state and local governments explicit legal authority to boycott any U.S. companies which themselves are participating in a boycott against Israel. As The Intercept reported last month, 26 states now have enacted some version of a law to punish or otherwise sanction entities that participate in or support the boycott of Israel, while similar laws are pending in at least 13 additional states. Rubio's bill is designed to strengthen the legal basis to defend those Israel-protecting laws from constitutional challenge.
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