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GOP congressman tried to amend tax code to report BDS supporters to IRS– and 12 Dems voted for it

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During final consideration of a House bill regarding retirement savings, North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry offered a motion to recommit that would have required the legislation to be amended before it passed. McHenry was looking to add a section that would have required some individuals who boycott Israel to report that information to the IRS and potentially be penalized for it.

HR 1994 – the “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019” was a noncontroversial bill introduced by Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal to update the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. It passed the House easily, but right before the vote Rep. McHenry approached the floor and called for an additional component to be added to the bill: “Reports by Taxpayers Engaged in Boycotts Etc. Affecting Israel.” McHenry gave an impassioned speech denouncing Democrats who have previously voted against anti-BDS bills and denounced BDS supporters as anti-Semitic.

“It may be polite in certain company to say you boycott, you divest, you sanction the State of Israel,” declared McHenry, “It is not polite to say that you are anti-Semitic. But what the BDS movement says is that you are anti-Semitic. What you say by supporting the BDS movement is that you are okay with discriminating against people because of their faith; you are okay discriminating against the Jewish people because you don’t like–well, let me stop there.”

McHenry’s bill would have changed the law to equate voluntary boycotts of Israel with coercive boycotts that are already part of a given state’s policy. As a result, individuals who boycott the state would be required to share this fact with the IRS when they filed their taxes.

“This is a brazen violation of Americans’ right to free speech,” Foundation for Middle East Peace president Lara Friedman writes at the group’s website. “It is also a McCarthyistic tactic of required self-reporting designed to enable – and legitimize – the U.S. government in building a list of Americans tracking their political views/activities.”

Elaine Luria meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu following her election to the House last year. From JNS.

Despite the fact that McHenry tried to sneak the section in at the last minute without public debate or discussion, his amendment was defeated by just 20 votes. Not only did 188 Republicans vote for it, 12 Democrats broke ranks to back McHenry’s move: New Jersey’s Josh Gottheimer, New York’s Joe Brindisi, South Carolina’s Joe Cunningham, Oklahoma’s Kendra Horn, Virginia’s Elaine Luria, Massachusetts’ Seth Moulton (a presidential candidate), Michigan’s Elissa Slotkin, Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger, New Jersey’s Jefferson Van Drew, and Pennsylvania’s Chrissy Houlahan.

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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12 Responses

  1. Rusty Pipes on June 11, 2019, 11:28 am

    For the most part, the names of these Democrats are unfamiliar. If this amendment was sponsored/written by AIPAC, is it possible that some of them are newbies trying to keep their initial AIPAC report card average high?

  2. LiberatePalestine on June 11, 2019, 11:30 am

    → But what the BDS movement says is that you are anti-Semitic. What you say by supporting the BDS movement is that you are okay with discriminating against people because of their faith; you are okay discriminating against the Jewish people because you don’t like–well, let me stop there.

    Read: Let me stop there because I’m talking nonsense and cannot possibly link BDS to anti-Semitism. I shall just stop there and hope that others will feel cowed into submission.

    The comparison to McCarthyism is apt. Note too the abuse of taxation for the purpose of oppressing dissidents.

  3. JWalters on June 11, 2019, 6:37 pm

    “But what the BDS movement says is that you are anti-Semitic. “

    What Patrick McHenry’s bill says is that he is a glaring liar, a traitor to the 1st Amendment, and thereby a traitor to the US Constitution. He deserves to be in jail with his criminal puppet masters. ASAP.

  4. CigarGod on June 11, 2019, 10:51 pm


  5. Marnie on June 11, 2019, 11:19 pm

    There must be a lot of democrats who aren’t democrats at all, but ‘republican lite’. Agree with JWalters and would say that many, many politicians at this time and place are traitors to the US Constitution they are charged with and took oaths to protect. Shame on them.

  6. Misterioso on June 12, 2019, 10:39 am

    For the record:

    What I find particularly intriguing about this just released article and video is that they have been published in main stream Internet news, i.e., Yahoo.

    Activist Linda Sarsour: ‘Donald Trump has no idea what a deal is’

    Article and video:
    Linda Sarsour is interviewed by Zainab Salbi

    “Palestinian-American activist and Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour is taking issue with President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, over his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    “’Jared Kushner’s the last person that should be trying to bring peace to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict,’ Sarsour told Yahoo News host Zainab Salbi in response to Kushner’s remarks on Palestinian self-governance in a recent interview with Axios.

    “’I know that we can get back to a day where we can live in coexistence, where we can live in peace. And it’s not going to be at the hands of a fascist like Trump, nor is it going to be at the hands of his son-in-law,’ Sarsour said.

    “She shared her thoughts on Kushner during a wide-ranging interview with the Yahoo News show ‘Through Her Eyes’ that touched on everything from the political to the personal. The Muslim American activist was highly critical of Trump when it came to the president’s pursuit of an elusive Middle East deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.

    “’Donald Trump has no idea what a deal is,’ Sarsour said. ‘I mean, he’s a man who has filed for bankruptcy many times, so he doesn’t understand how to make any deals. And he’s not going to be able to bring peace to that part of the world.’

    “’I reject any deals coming from a fascist administration that is anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian in the policies that have already been put forward by this administration,’ she continued.

    “Sarsour describes herself as a ‘very unapologetic’ critic of the state of Israel. She recognizes that her rhetoric opens her up to more criticism from both Republican and Democratic opponents, including allegations that she is anti-Semitic. Among Sarsour’s detractors is the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who retweeted a video claiming that ‘Linda Sarsour refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.’

    “’This idea of me being anti-Semitic is the most ludicrous of them all,’ Sarsour said of the attacks leveled against her.

    ‘I believe in the liberation of the Palestinian people. I believe in a nonviolent movement of boycott divestment sanctions. And those positions, those positions that I just put forth are what critics will say makes me anti-Semitic.’

    “But Sarsour isn’t deterred by her adversaries.
    “’I understand my history in the United States of America,’ Sarsour said. ‘There has never been an effective leader or organizer that has not been vilified. And these tactics are used to discredit me because I’m so effective in the way in which I’m able to mobilize people of all different backgrounds.’

    “’I have positions that I hold, and I’m not going to hide my positions to make anybody else feel comfortable,’ she continued.

    “This unapologetic approach to politics is a trait Sarsour shares with many members of the congressional freshman class, including the first Muslim women elected to Congress, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. In the six months since they were sworn into office, Tlaib and Omar have been inundated with criticism, particularly for their views on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. Sarsour told ‘Through Her Eyes’ that although the onslaught has discouraged some Muslim women from pursuing elected positions, for many others it has only fueled their desire to be politically active.

    “’I think the majority of us, particularly younger women, are doubling down,’ Sarsour said. ‘I am so fired up every time I see Rashida and Ilhan get attacked, and I’ve actually been helping to organize progressives around supporting them.’

    “’They’re being attacked, but you know what? There’s a shift in the conversation,’ Sarsour added.”

  7. davisherb on June 12, 2019, 10:50 am

    You don’t have to be Jewish to be controlled by AIPAC.

    You don’t have to be anti-Semitic to criticize Israel/AIPAC.

  8. Sulphurdunn on June 13, 2019, 11:29 am

    Never trust anyone who wears a bowtie to work.

    • RoHa on June 14, 2019, 2:03 am

      My mother gave me that advice. Turned out to be sound.

    • OldWhig on June 14, 2019, 5:13 am


    • MHughes976 on June 14, 2019, 10:16 am

      I have a friend who wears a bow tie to church. I think he’s very sound theologically and politically.

      • RoHa on June 15, 2019, 12:16 am

        That he can trick you into believing that shows just how untrustworthy bow tie wearers are.

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