This story was updated on April 26 to include a quote from Rep. Summer Lee.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to pass a resolution marking Israel’s 75th anniversary, heralding the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and urging the expansion of the Abraham Accords.
H.Res.311 passed 401-19, with 18 progressive Democrats opposing the measure amid growing comfort within the party to take such public stances against the Jewish state, along with protests raised by the J Street lobby group over the initiative’s lack of inclusion of support for a two-state solution.
Rep. Summer Lee, representing Pennsylvania’s District 12, voted against the measure.
“Unlike other past bipartisan resolutions, the resolution we voted on last night makes no mention of a ‘two-state solution’ and does not acknowledge the Palestinian people or any concrete steps towards peace,” Lee wrote in an email to the Chronicle. “The omission of a two-state solution or even hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians is purposeful and changes long-standing bipartisan precedent to accommodate growing Republican abandonment of support for two states. The resolution also intentionally differs from the President Biden’s policy of ‘bringing the Palestinians into’ the accords and ensure they benefit from them. With the escalation of violence in the region, we must be committed to President Biden’s goal of improving Trump’s Abraham Accords and making tangible progress towards peace and a two state solution.
“If we believe seriously in peace and a two state solution, then we must evaluate whether any given legislative action gets us closer to those goals. This resolution did not,” she added.
Previous resolutions introduced every five years to mark Israeli Independence Day have included mentions of the two-state solution or peace with the Palestinians. The Haaretz daily reported that Democratic congressional leadership sought to add such language but were rebuffed by Republicans, who have increasingly moved away from openly backing two states.
The 19 lawmakers who voted “no” were more than double the number of representatives who voted against a September 2021 bill to provide Israel with $1 billion for its Iron Dome missile defense system. That resolution passed 420-9.
While Tuesday’s resolution was far more symbolic than the 2021 initiative, both were seen as barometers of Congressional support for Israel, with the results on the latest bill indicating that backing has slightly waned.
Voting against Tuesday’s pro-Israel resolution were eight of the nine lawmakers who opposed the Iron Dome funding in 2021 — Democratic Representatives Cori Bush, Andre Carson, Chuy Garcia, Raul Grijalva, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Republican Rep. Thomas Massie. (The ninth lawmaker, Democratic representative Marie Newman, lost her reelection bid last year.)
The House just overwhelmingly passed my resolution celebrating 75 years of independence for Israel.
75 years of cultural exchange
75 years of economic growth with a startup nation
75 years of security cooperation
75 years of together pursuing peace
Congratulations on 75 years! pic.twitter.com/CWEyvjG48h
— Rep. Brad Schneider (@RepSchneider) April 25, 2023
Joining them were Democratic Representatives Jamaal Bowman, Mark Desaulnier, Jared Huffman, Pramila Jayapal, Hank Johnson, Summer Lee, Betty McCollum, Mark Pocan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Delia Ramirez and Nydia Velazquez.
The legislation was co-sponsored by Republican Representatives Ann Wagner and Michael McCaul along with Democratic Representatives Kathy Manning and Brad Schneider, demonstrating sustained bipartisan support for Israel in an ever-polarized political climate in Washington.
Both Manning and Schneider made a point of stressing their support for the two-state solution in the floor debate ahead of the vote.
The text’s mention of support for the Abraham Accords avoided using the Biden administration talking point about the importance of leveraging Israel’s new relations with Arab states in order to advance peace with the Palestinians.
The resolution “encourag[es] the expansion and strengthening of the Abraham Accords to urge other nations to normalize relations with Israel and ensure that existing agreements reap tangible security and economic benefits for the citizens of those countries and all peoples in the region.”
J Street did not specifically urge lawmakers to vote against the bill but did share its concerns with members.
“We regret that the House resolution introduced to mark Israel’s landmark 75th anniversary omits key commitments and aspirations that have been central to the US-Israel relationship for decades,” the group’s spokesperson Logan Bayroff told Jewish Insider.
“This anniversary should be a time — as has been the case with prior resolutions marking milestone anniversaries for Israel — when long-standing bipartisan consensus positions on Israel are reinforced, rather than excised to accommodate the Republican party’s growing rejection of them,” Bayroff added.
AIPAC, on the other hand, lobbied in favor of the bill and hailed its passing. PJC
Toby Tabachnick contributed to this report.