Democrats blocked a bill on Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives that would have prohibited U.S. support for the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), would have expanded the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 to include prohibiting U.S. support for foreign boycotts of Israel from groups including the European Union and the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Lawmakers defeated consideration of the bill by a tally of 219-194.
“We cannot be quiet when it comes to combating anti-Semitism and anti-Israel mentalities,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) 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.”
“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,” said Zeldin, who mentioned in his speech on the House floor about the U.N. Human Rights Council releasing a blacklist of companies that do business in the West Bank.
The bill stated that it would not apply to “a person’s noncommercial speech or other noncommercial expressive activity.”
Democrats have been reluctant to support anti-BDS legislation due to First Amendment concerns, although it is unclear whether that rationale was the reason that House Democrats blocked the bill.