Speaker Ryan: Congress Will Fight Obama Efforts to Ignore Pro-Israel Law

House Speaker Paul Ryan
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) / AP
February 26, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) told the Washington Free Beacon on Friday that Congress will fight against an Obama administration decision to not enforce portions of a new bill aimed at strengthening the U.S.-Israel economic relationship and combating boycotts on the Jewish state.

Ryan’s statement comes in response to a White House effort to waive portions of a new bipartisan trade bill that would boost U.S.-Israel economic ties and fight against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to economically isolate Israel.

Top Democrats recently broke with the White House’s position on the bill, accusing it of lying about its pro-Israel provisions. These Democrats—including Sens. Harry Reid (Nev.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.)—demanded that the president follow the law as Congress wrote it.

Ryan agreed with his colleagues across the aisle, telling the Free Beacon that congressional leaders will use their oversight authority to ensure that the pro-Israel measures are upheld.

"Only this administration would try not to enforce a trade enforcement law. These provisions, which I was involved in negotiating as Ways and Means chairman, are designed to shield our ally Israel from delegitimization efforts and economic attacks," Ryan said.

"They are now the law of the land. The president should listen to leaders in his own party, and follow the law," he added. "We will use our oversight capacity to ensure these measures are faithfully enforced."

Top Democrats say the legislation is fine as it is written, stating that White House claims that it violates U.S. policy on Israeli settlements is inaccurate.

"While the Obama Administration has reiterated its opposition to boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel, it has mischaracterized the TPA and Customs bill provisions as making a U.S. policy statement about Israeli settlements," the senators said in a joint statement.

"This simply is not the case," the senators said. "These provisions are not about Israeli settlements."

"Rather, consistent with U.S. policy, they are about discouraging politically-motivated commercial actions aimed at delegitimizing Israel and pressuring Israel into unilateral concessions outside the bounds of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," they said. "We urge the Administration to implement these provisions as enacted and intended."

The rift between the administration and Congress comes as the White House lends it support to efforts aimed at labeling Jewish-made goods produced in disputed territories of Israel. The Israeli government has described the labeling efforts as anti-Semitic.