Republicans attempt to amend retirement savings bill to include anti-BDS language

Twelve House Democrats broke party ranks and voted in favor of a Republican motion to recommit that would have added language preventing companies that support the “boycott, divestment, sanctions” movement (BDS) from receiving tax subsidies to a bill related to retirement savings.

While the GOP’s attempts to amend the bill at the eleventh hour ultimately failed in a 200-222 vote on Thursday, there was an uptick in the number of Democrats willing to join them in utilizing the procedural tool. Democratic leaders had earlier this year called on their caucus to reject Republicans’ procedural motions as a blanket policy. 

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The amendment would have required pro-BDS businesses that are “engaged in boycott activity against Israel” to disclose their activity in their annual tax return.

Republicans have been aggressive in their messaging efforts on anti-Semitism, often highlighting controversial remarks made by members across the aisle that have been critical of U.S.-Israel relations.

“I stand here before the House today to get an affirmative vote that we stand together against the anti-Semitic notion of the BDS Movement. The boycott -- The BDS movement is an effort to weaponize the world's economy against one simple state — one state, the great state of Israel — and the Jewish people,” Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Maxine Waters says her committee will call in Zuckerberg to testify about Libra House asks Facebook: 'What is Libra?' MORE (R-N.C.) said on the floor.

“They are trying to weaponize our economy, our dollars against our only ally in the Middle East that's a democracy. This is an effort for us today to say that we'll stand against this movement.”

Democrats blasted the move as a political ploy to splinter the Democratic caucus.

"We know the drill on MTR's [motions to recommit], how they are being used to heap scorn on complicated arguments, the demagogue arguments that should be taken up in a separate space," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealNY files motion to keep Trump tax returns lawsuit out of DC court Democrats give cold shoulder to Warren wealth tax Senate Dems urge Mnuchin not to cut capital gains taxes MORE (D-Mass.) shot back.  

"You know what else this is about? For those of us who came through the wards and precincts of American politics, there is a difference in politics between being cute and being clever. This is cute, this is not clever."

Two GOP members, Reps. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieAirports already have plenty of infrastructure funding Overnight Defense: House votes to block Trump arms sales to Saudis, setting up likely veto | US officially kicks Turkey out of F-35 program | Pentagon sending 2,100 more troops to border House votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (Ky.) and Justin AmashJustin AmashLawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Sanford headed to New Hampshire amid talk of challenge to Trump MORE (Mich.), voted against the measure during the procedural vote.

Republicans have successfully utilized the tool — which allows them to force vulnerable members across the aisle to take difficult votes — twice this year, the first to amend a bill on Yemen to include language condemning anti-Semitism and a second time to amend a bill aimed at strengthening background checks on gun purchase to include language requiring that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) get notified when someone who entered the country illegally attempts to purchase a gun.