Senate Panel Passes Kirk Legislation to Combat Economic Warfare Targeting Israel


WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) applauded the inclusion of his Combating BDS Act of 2016 in the fiscal year 2017 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Program Appropriations (SFOPS) Act that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee today in a 21-to-9 vote.  Co-authored with Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the bipartisan measure empowers state and local governments to use the power of the purse to defend against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s economic warfare targeting Israel.

 “Today, 21 Senate appropriators joined me to take a strong bipartisan stand against anti-Semitism, and voted to protect Illinois and other states seeking to fight back against the BDS movement’s economic warfare targeting Israel,” said Senator Kirk. 

The Combating BDS Act of 2016 allows state and local governments to divest taxpayer money from companies engaged in BDS conduct targeting Israel. This legislation underscores the critical role that state and local communities have to play in the ongoing struggle against anti-Semitism worldwide.

The bill is supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), American Jewish Committee (AJC), Stand with Us, and many other pro-Israel organizations.


In February, Senator Kirk and Representative Robert Dold (R-Ill.-10) led the introduction of the Combating BDS Act of 2016 in their respective chambers.

Opponents of Israel are increasingly using BDS as a hateful weapon to delegitimize the Jewish State and those who stand with her.  At a time when anti-Israel boycotts are popping up around the country and the globe, the United States, Israel and our allies require new ways to defend against the evolving threat of economic warfare.  Similar to previous state-based efforts to divest from companies doing business with Iran and Sudan, a movement among state and local governments is growing to enact measures to divest from entities participating in the anti-Israel BDS movement.  

The Combating BDS Act of 2016 strengthens these efforts by affirming, at the federal level, the legal authority of state and local governments to take tangible actions to counter this economic warfare against Israel.  

The bill clarifies that state or local governments have the legal authority to identify and divest public funds from entities engaged in BDS when the designations are based on “credible information available to the public.”  By clarifying this authority, this legislation will protect state and local governments from lawsuits alleging they are unreasonably burdening or discriminating against interstate or foreign commerce.

The bill’s nonpreemption safe harbor for asset managers will also give states an offensive capability against entities seeking to economically damage Israel. 


Senate Appropriations Committee (June 29, 2016)


1.      Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS)

2.      Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

3.      Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL)

4.      Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

5.      Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)

6.      Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

7.      Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

8.      Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)

9.      Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)

10.  Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS)

11.  Senator John Hoeven (R-ND)

12.  Senator John Boozman (R-AR)

13.  Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)

14.  Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

15.  Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

16.  Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)


17.  Appropriations Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

18.  Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)

19.  Senator Jon Tester (D-MT)

20.  Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE)

21.  Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)





1.      Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

2.      Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

3.      Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)

4.      Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

5.      Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

6.      Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

7.      Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

8.      Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)

9.      Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)