This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was able to get his bill having the U.S. State Department to do more to battle anti-Semitism across the globe across the finish line on Capitol Hill.
At the start of last year, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, to bring back the “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act” which would “enhance the State Department’s role in combating and monitoring anti-Semitism around the world.”
The two senators reeled in the support of Republican U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democrats U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Jacky Rosen of Nevada and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
According to Rubio’s office, the bill would “elevate the position of special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism to the rank of ambassador; direct the special envoy to report directly to the secretary of state; prohibit the special envoy from being double-hatted with another portfolio of issues; emphasize that the special envoy should be a person of recognized distinction in the field of combating anti-Semitism or religious freedom; clarify that the special envoy shall be the primary advisor and coordinator for U.S. government efforts to monitor and combat anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement in foreign countries.”
After the Senate passed the bill on Wednesday, Rubio and other backers weighed in on why they had pushed it in recent years.
“Anti-Semitism, unfortunately, is on the rise and we must do all we can to combat this ancient evil,” Rubio said. “I welcome the passage of this important bipartisan bill that will ensure that the U.S. remains a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism worldwide. I commend my Senate colleagues for passing this legislation, and look forward to the House quickly passing it and sending it to the President to be signed into law.”
“As we have seen far too often, anti-Semitism is surging in New York state, our country, and across the world,” Gillibrand said. “We must do everything in our power to confront, and end, this growing threat. I am proud that we were able to pass this bipartisan bill to elevate the position of special envoy to the rank of ambassador in order to ensure that the State Department can monitor and help combat anti-Semitism across the globe. I will always stand with the Jewish community, and fight against hatred and prejudice in all its forms.”
“Anti-Semitism continues to rise at an alarming rate across the globe. To equip the State Department to better address rising anti-Semitism, it is critical that we elevate the role of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to Ambassador-at-Large,” Rosen said. “I am proud to see that this important bipartisan bill has passed the Senate and is one step closer to becoming law, ensuring that the United States remains a leader in combating anti-Semitism internationally and has the tools needed to track and respond to this growing scourge. I will continue working to put a stop to anti-Semitic hatred and bigotry, whether at home or abroad.”
“Congress has taken an important step today to ensure that our government can better fight rising antisemitism around the world,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “We thank members of Congress for their leadership in bolstering the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, and for doing so in such a commendable, bipartisan manner.”
“Congress recognized the need for a focused approach to address the resurgence of antisemitism when it created the position of the Special Envoy in 2004. Elevating the position to the rank of ambassador, which this legislation does, will enable the U.S. to enhance our leadership addressing the scourge of antisemitism across the globe,” said Rabbi Andrew Baker, the director of international Jewish affairs of the American Jewish Congress (AJC).
Over in the U.S. House, the proposal was championed by U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ. They were able to get their bill through the House at the start of 2019 on a 411-1 vote. Retiring U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., was the only vote against the proposal in the House. The bill now heads to the White House.
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