House Dems Block Anti-BDS Bill

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March 4, 2020

House Democrats on Wednesday blocked the consideration of a bill that would have prohibited domestic support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.) sponsored the bill, which would have modified existing law to take aim at the anti-Israel BDS movement by forbidding domestic support for foreign boycotts from organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Council and the European Union.

Lawmakers voted along party lines to defeat the consideration of the bill by a margin of 219 to 194.

"We cannot be quiet when it comes to combating anti-Semitism and anti-Israel mentalities," Rep. Debbie Lesko (R., Ariz.) said on the House floor. "We need to work together in Congress and pass common-sense legislation on this issue. H.R. 5595 does just that."

Zeldin added that the bill established Congress's opposition to the BDS movement and condemned the United Nations "blacklist" of companies that do business in the West Bank. He called on Congress to also condemn the United Nations' actions against Israel.

"BDS tries to delegitimize Israel by turning it into a pariah state, cut off from all trade, tourism, military, diplomatic, and cultural ties with the rest of the world," Zeldin said.

The bill also included a section addressing First Amendment concerns, stating that the bill's text does not apply to "a person's noncommercial speech or other noncommercial expressive activity."