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Rubio, Manchin Introduce Bill to Counter BDS Movement Targeting Israel

Jan 18, 2017 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are leading a bipartisan group of 19 senators in introducing the Combating BDS Act (S. 170), a bill to fight back against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement’s economic warfare against the Jewish state of Israel. The bill, which updates last year’s legislation proposed by Manchin and former Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), increases protections for state and local governments in the United States that decide to divest from, prohibit investment in, and restrict contracting with companies knowingly engaged in commerce-related or investment-related BDS activity targeting Israel.

“This legislation supports efforts by state governments and local communities to use the power of the purse to counter the BDS movement’s economic warfare targeting Israel,” said Rubio. “This bipartisan bill is all the more timely after the United Nations Security Council’s passage of Resolution 2334, a deplorable one-sided measure that harms Israel and effectively encourages the BDS movement’s campaigns to commercially and financially target and discriminate against the Jewish state.”

“This legislation is an important step forward in reassuring Israel that we are protecting our shared national security interests, while also protecting our joint economic interests,” said Manchin. “This bipartisan legislation gives state and local governments a legal way to combat the shameful boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. Israel has been our strongest ally in the Middle East and we need to send them a strong signal that we will do everything in our power to fight the BDS movement.”

Original cosponsors of the Combating BDS Act include Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bill Nelson (D-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Roy Blunt (R-MO).

Israel’s opponents are using boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as a hateful weapon to delegitimize the Jewish State and its allies. At a time when anti-Israel boycotts are popping up around the country and the globe, the United States, Israel and our allies need new ways to defend against the evolving threat of economic warfare. Similar to earlier state-based efforts to divest from companies doing business with Iran and Sudan, a new movement among state and local governments is growing to enact measures to divest from, prohibit investment in, and restrict contracting with entities engaged in discriminatory BDS conduct targeting Israel.

The Combating BDS Act strengthens these efforts by affirming the legal authority of state and local governments to take tangible actions to counter economic warfare against Israel. Recognizing non-preemption, the bill clarifies that state and local governments have the legal authority to identify and divest public funds from, prohibit investment in, and restrict contracting with entities engaged in BDS conduct when the designations are based on “credible information available to the public.” The bill’s non-preemption safe harbor for asset managers will also give them an offensive capability against entities seeking to economically harm Israel.