Senators Who Voted Against Confirming Pompeo Beg For His Ear on Gaza

J Street-backed letter to Pompeo garners support from just 13 senators

BY:

A group of Democratic senators who voted against confirming Mike Pompeo as secretary of state late last month have sent him a letter telling him they "stand ready to work" with him on the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

The letter to Pompeo was backed by anti-Israel advocacy group J Street and had Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) as its lead signatory. It won the support of Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Tom Carper (Del.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), all of whom voted against Pompeo's April 26 confirmation.

The letter follows weeks of violent riots at the Israeli border led by Hamas, a terrorist group that has governed the territory since 2007.

It calls for Pompeo to reverse a Trump administration decision to slash funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which was cut off in January for the continued misuse of humanitarian aid funds. It also advocates for infrastructure investments in Gaza and for the administration to push for eased restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza.

The letter concludes by putting partial blame on both Hamas and Israel for the "horrific conditions in Gaza," and saying the senators would like to work with Pompeo on the issue.

"We stand ready to work with you on this important matter," it says.

 

J Street said in a press release that it was "proud to support and advocate on behalf of this deeply important message from prominent lawmakers."

The group did not respond to inquiries on the extent of its effort to gather signatures for the letter or whether it was pleased to get only 12 beyond Sanders, who this week condemned Israel for the violence at the Gaza border.

Sanders's office also did not respond to calls regarding the letter and why he was able to get only 12 colleagues to sign.

Of the signatories, only Feinstein, Whitehouse, and Reed voted in 2017 to confirm Pompeo to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

J Street actively campaigned against Pompeo's confirmation.

Pompeo's State Department has defended Israel's right to defend itself against the Hamas-led protests.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley praised Israel earlier this week and said the protests showed that Hamas was "determined to make the lives of the Palestinian people miserable."

A State Department office said it had received the letter but is yet to respond.

"I can confirm we’ve received the letter and will respond as appropriate," the official said.

UPDATE Friday 2:15 p.m.: This piece has been updated with comment from the State Department.

Brent Scher   Email Brent | Full Bio | RSS
Brent Scher is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Virginia, where he studied foreign affairs and politics.

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