Senate OK’s $38 Billion Aid to Israel; Includes Anti-BDS Provision

The U.S. Senate approved in a 77-23 vote a bill that codifies $38 billion in defense assistance to Israel and which provides legal cover to states that target the boycott Israel movement.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., had stirred controversy because a number of Democratic senators said that while they oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, they were also concerned that state laws aimed at BDS impinged on speech freedoms.

Among the Democratic dissenters were declared presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California. Non-declared but likely presidential contenders who voted included Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sherrod Brown of Ohio who voted against; and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota who voted for. The sole Republican voting against was Rand Paul of Kentucky.

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