Alwaght- The US Senate’s first bill of 2019 reportedly aims to protect Israeli regime from boycotts, while many expected with the start of the new year legislative session the upper house would prioritize ending the two-week government shutdown.
"But in the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered – S.1 – is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign-policy related measures, a main one of which is a provision, with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor, to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for AIPAC," The Intercept reported.
The boycott-banning legislation has apparently taken precedence over the ongoing government shutdown – already the third-longest on record, shuttering nine departments and leaving hundreds of thousands of government workers without paychecks.
With Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) as the lead sponsor, the Combating BDS Act is expected to receive bipartisan support. Coincidentally, punishing corporations and individuals who support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is a top legislative priority for AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby. The bill was previously introduced (but never passed) last year, and gave state and local governments the authority to refuse to do business with US firms participating in a boycott against Israeli regime. Similar anti-BDS legislation has already been adopted in 26 states. So far, two federal courts have ruled that punishing companies or individuals who boycott goods produced in Israel violates constitutionally-protected rights under the First Amendment.
S.1 is purportedly being specially drafted to avoid similar legal challenges – but has already come under fire from civil liberties groups. In a comment provided to The Intercept, the ACLU said that the bill would “weaken Americans’ First Amendment protections” and “sends a message to Americans that they will be penalized if they dare to disagree with their government” – or Israel, for that matter.
Many on Twitter expressed disgust that senators were giving Israel priority over their own constituents.