In final vote before primary election, Amash votes for America over Israel
Congress increases American taxpayer debt to assist Israel
By Ray Hanania
In his last vote Friday before returning to his 3rd Congressional district to face-off against a wild-rhetoric challenger in the Republican Primary this week, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash cast a vote for America, refusing to support legislation that would give Israel $225 million in additional money from taxpayers to replenish ammunition spent on attacking Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
Although Amash avoided criticizing Israel’s month-long assault on the Gaza Strip which has taken the lives of more than 1,800 civilians including women, children and infants, the second term Grand Rapids, Michigan Congressman complained that the debt burden on taxpayers continues to be too much and American taxpayers can’t afford to continue to bail out every foreign country that needs money.
Amash was only one of four Republicans and four Democrats who voted against the bill which was introduced by New Jersey Republican Congressman Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (NJ-11th) and backed by lame-duck President Barak Obama.
Israel, tapping pro-Israel sympathy in the Congress, claimed the $225 million in taxpayer funds would be used to replenish weaponry used in the assault and to strengthen the “Iron Dome,” the missile defense system Israel built to deflect missiles fried by Hamas and militants from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The U.S. Congress already has given Israel $235 million this year in funds to support the “Iron Dome” missile system which allows Israel to take down missiles fired by militants but allows it to fire missiles at Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank and in Lebanon and Syria.
Amash boasts on his campaign website www.JustinAmash.com that he is the ONLY Congressman to explain his votes on his Facebook Page. Of course, being only two days ago and it being an election weekend, there was no explanation of his vote on the $225 million in taxpayer funding for Israel. Israel already receives more than $5 billion a year in funds, grants and loans from the American Taxpayers, more than any other foreign country.
Pro-Israel congressman David N. Cicilline, a pro-Israel Democrat from Rhode Island, issued a press release on his support of the grant funding that was typical of other congressmen and women who supported Israel’s demand for more funds:
“Israel has the right to defend itself against any assault on its sovereignty and its people. This emergency funding will help replenish Israel’s Iron Dome to safeguard the Israeli people from Hamas rocket fire. Since the beginning of the escalation of violence the Iron Dome has intercepted hundreds of Hamas rockets and saved the lives of innocent civilians. Tonight’s vote sends a clear message that the U.S. stands with our ally Israel and will continue to meet their military needs. We must also recognize that a permanent ceasefire through diplomacy is in the best interest of the Israeli and Palestinian people. As Secretary Kerry and his international counterparts work on a ceasefire or political solution, we will continue to ensure that Israel has the ability to defend itself.”
Like other congress members, Cicilline’s statement did not mention the mounting civilian fatalities including the killing of more than 250 babies, infants, children and teenagers who have been killed by Israel using American-made weapons.
Joining Amash, who is Arab of Palestinian and Syrian descent, were three other Republicans who have taken hard lines against adding to the taxpayer’s debt, including U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (NC-03), U.S. Rep. Tom Massie (KY-04), and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (SC-01). The four Democrats were U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-05) who is Muslim, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (VA-08) who has been a strong advocate of supporting equality in the Middle East, and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (TX-16).
The bill, House Joint Resolution 76 (HJ RES 76) passed the U.S. House 395 voting YES, 8 voting NO, and 29 NOT VOTING. (The alternative to NOT VOTING is to vote PRESENT. Not voting allows congress members to avoid explaining whether or not they supported or opposed a bill. They can say they just were not in the room when the vote was called.
HJ RES 76 was approved by the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent, meaning a roll-call vote was not taken. (The Official vote roll call is listed at the end of this column. Or, click here for the overview.)
Ironically the other American Arab members of the U.S. Congress voted to support the funding grant to Israel including U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who is married to a Lebanese Arab American and who has defended Israel’s military actions that have killed some 1,800 civilians. And Congressman Nick Rahall, also American Arab, voted to support the taxpayer “gift” to Israel. To get an overview of Amash’s congressional career, click here.
While Amash chose to vote no, 29 other members of Congress refused to cast a vote. They include:
Sánchez, Linda T.
Here is the Text of HJ RES 76:
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Friday,
the third day of January, two thousand and fourteen
Making an emergency supplemental appropriation for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014, to provide funding to Israel for the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
- That the following sum is appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014, and for other purposes, namely:
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
- For an additional amount for `Procurement, Defense-Wide’, $225,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2015, which shall be for the Secretary of Defense to provide to the Government of Israel for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats:
- , That such funds shall be transferred immediately only through an exchange of letters to address emergent operations in support of Operation Protective Edge, notwithstanding section 22.214.171.124.1 of the U.S.-Israel Iron Dome Procurement Agreement:
- , That nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to apply to previously appropriated funds for the procurement of Iron Dome:
- , That such amount is designated by the Congress as an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
- This joint resolution may be cited as the `Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Resolution, 2014′.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Vice President of the United States and
President of the Senate.
The Bill was rushed through the Congress and the Senate and was presented to President Obama on Sunday August 4 and was signed into law the same day, officially known as Public Law No: 113-145.
The following are members of Congress who voted in favor of the appropriation gift to Israel:
Johnson, E. B.
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
Voting to support the bill was also U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) whose congressional district includes one of the largest concentrations of American Arabs in Illinois. Lipinski has also sponsored legislation written by the Israel lobby AIPAC that would punish any American entity that votes to boycott an Israeli educational institution by denying funding to that organization or education institution. Click to read the story.
To make it more difficult for Americans to identify the supporters and opponents of the bill, the U.S. Congress does not publish the full names, district numbers of states of the members of the U.S. Congress or the U.S. Senate in vote total tabulations online.
The Arab Daily News has repeatedly been denied requests to interview Congressman Amash.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. He is the Managing Editor of The Arab Daily News online www.TheArabDailyNews.com.)