While Democrats are likely to keep control of the U.S. Senate, Republicans will take over the U.S. House of Representatives following Tuesday’s (Nov. 2) elections. This is likely to have implications for Israel-related issues such as Israel’s relationship with the United States and the push for sanctions against Iran.
“The takeover of the House by Republicans is great news for Israel and her supporters,” Ari Fleischer, who was White House spokesman under former President George W. Bush, told The Israel Project. “The House leadership and almost every single GOP member is rock-solid behind Israel. At times like this, Israel needs friends everywhere.”
David A. Harris, president and CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, praised the House’s leadership on Israel-centric matters. “The House Democratic leadership has been powerfully supportive of Israel, and Speaker Pelosi has been nothing short of passionate in her successful pursuit of biting sanctions against Iran – a key interest of the pro-Israel community,” Harris said to The Israel Project.
“Congress has long been broadly bipartisan when it comes to support for the U.S.-Israel relationship, and that's a success story of the American Jewish community.” In terms of sustaining the Senate, Harris said, “The entire Senate Democratic leadership team has been powerfully supportive of Israel, and Senate Majority Leader Reid has led the charge on an array of issues, including biting sanctions against Iran. But while individual candidates may win or lose, Congress has long been broadly bipartisan when it comes to Israel, and that’s a success story of the American Jewish community. We fully expect this tradition of bipartisan support will continue as the newly elected Senators begin to serve their terms.”
Said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, “American voters on both sides of the aisle support
In a Republican House, Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks told The Israel Project, “Its leaders will not hesitate to speak out firmly on Israel's behalf when Israel's bitter enemies press to delegitimize the Jewish State. We know that affinity for Israel and dedication to Israel's security are broad and deep in the ranks of the Republican caucus - very much including the newly elected members, most of whom have already built bonds of trust with pro-Israel constituents.”
Key House leadership changes
*House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif. is expected to hand over the gavel to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. Ros-Lehtinen has focused on ending the Palestinian culture of hate and has proposed tying appropriations to the issue. She has repeatedly proposed legislation against Iran, including increasing sanctions and raising the profile of Iran’s human rights abuses.
*Under Republican leadership, current Minority House Ranking Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio – considered staunchly pro-Israel – will become speaker of the House, replacing Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
*House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., will become majority leader, the highest-ranking post a Jew has ever held in Congress. Cantor, the point-person for Republicans on Israel, has been very active in supporting Israel-related issues, such as pressuring President Barack Obama to oppose repeated U.N. resolutions condemning Israel.
Cantor also has co-sponsored legislation that would end U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinian Authority until it puts an end to the culture of hate and stops unauthorized excavations of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. He also has co-authored Iran sanctions legislation.
*On the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation, and Trade, a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif. will lose his chairmanship to Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., who, like Sherman, is a longtime supporter of Israel. (Disclosure: Sherman is on TIP’s board of advisors)
*Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., will lose his chairmanship of the Financial Services Committee, a key avenue for sanctions against Iran. The top three contenders for chairman are Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., Pete King, R-N.Y., and Royce.