U.S. House Passes Bill Setting Deadline for Nomination of Special anti-Semitism Envoy

New bill would also elevate the position to ambassador level and calls for nomination within 90 days, but it still needs to be approved by the Senate

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, flanked by other representatives, talks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 11, 2019.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation setting a 90-day deadline for the president to nominate a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism at the State Department.

The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act was authored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who helped write the 2004 law that created the monitor post. The new bill would also elevate the position to ambassador level. The bill passed Friday 411-1 with only Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, dissenting.

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It’s the second time in six months the House has passed the legislation. It passed overwhelmingly in September, but the Senate failed to advance a similar version to the floor, and the bill lapsed when the 115th Congress ended in December. One of the new Democratic-led House’s first actions was to pass the bill; now it awaits treatment by the Senate.

Lawmakers and Jewish communal organizations have chafed at the Trump administration’s failure to name someone to the anti-Semitism monitor post since Donald Trump became president, citing a perceived spike in anti-Semitism worldwide.

Under the legislation, the anti-Semitism monitor would be the primary adviser to the U.S. government in monitoring and combating anti-Semitism and would not have extraneous duties. The president must nominate a candidate for the position within 90 days of the legislation becoming law.

“Politicians, entertainers, and public intellectuals across the philosophical spectrum have exhibited anti-Semitism,” Smith said on the House floor before the vote. “Strong American leadership is essential to battle this bigotry.”