The Senate on Thursday morning voted not to advance the Biden administration's nominee to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Brazil to a full vote, less than a day after the Washington Free Beacon reported on the candidate's past remarks about the "Jewish lobby" and its "major money."
Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, a longtime diplomat and Democratic Party insider, was shot down by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a party-line vote of 11-11. While Bagley was initially expected to clear the committee and move on to a full Senate confirmation vote, the Free Beacon's Wednesday evening reporting on her comments about the Jewish community are said to have galvanized Republican opposition.
The Free Beacon's reporting on Bagley's remarks stunned GOP members of the committee, according to one senior congressional Republican staffer working on the matter.
"The Biden admin knew that Democrats would fall into line, but once Republicans read the things she had said, no one was going to vote for her," the source said.
Bagley's comments about Jewish money in politics were widely condemned as anti-Semitic and raised concerns among members of both parties. Bagley's nomination is now in limbo, with Democrats no longer having the Republican support needed to push her through to a full vote in the Senate.
"Brazil is an extremely important ally to the United States in South America and in the Western Hemisphere, and we share common values and ideals—especially with regard to respect of religious freedoms and democratic ideals," Sen. James Risch (R., Idaho), the committee's ranking member, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, Ms. Bagley's statements in a 1998 interview insinuating that Jewish and Cuban Americans' motivations and voting practices are based on 'major money' and 'radical' opposition to the Castro regime fly in the face of those shared values. For this reason, I could not support her nomination."
Bagley in a 1998 interview reviewed by the Free Beacon lamented "the influence of the Jewish lobby because there is major money involved." She claimed that "the Democrats always tend to go with the Jewish constituency on Israel and say stupid things, like moving the capital to Jerusalem always comes up." Support for Israel-related issues are mainly due to "the Jewish factor, it's money," Bagley said. The interview was conducted by a historian at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training for an oral history project.
"There is always the influence of the Jewish lobby because there is major money involved," Bagley said in the interview.
Claims that American Jews and pro-Israel advocates nefariously manipulate politicians into supporting the Jewish state have long been considered anti-Semitism.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a watchdog group that combats anti-Semitism, called on President Joe Biden to withdraw Bagley's nomination over her comments.
Bagley "must remove herself from consideration to represent the American people in Brazil. If she doesn't, the president or secretary of state should," the organization tweeted on Thursday.
When questioned about these remarks during a May 18 confirmation hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bagley said they were the result of a "free-flowing discussion" with the interviewer.
"I regret that you would think that it was a problem," Bagley said at the time in her defense. "I certainly didn't mean anything by it. It was a poor choice of words, but it was something that the interviewer had asked me, prompted by something about politics."
Democrats during the hearing expressed concern about Bagley's rhetoric.
"The language you used in regard to the Jewish community, Israel's influence on our election, and Jewish money have me concerned," Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) said during the hearing. "The choice of words … fit into the traditional tropes of anti-Semitism."