Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September-October 2002, pages 24-37

Congress Watch

Ten Senators, 27 Representatives Make 107th Congress “Hall of Fame”

By Shirl McArthur

Click here for a pdf version (592k) of this entire article, which includes the Report Card for the 107th Congress (2nd Session)

Considering the increasingly virulent anti-Palestinian, sometimes anti-Arab, congressional actions and expressions over the past few months, it is tempting for this, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,’s pre-election scorecard for the members of the 107th Congress, to concentrate on negative criteria. However, there have been bright spots—those members willing to incur the wrath of the Zionist lobby and vote their conscience and the U.S. national interest, rather than that of a foreign power. Because these bright spots should be recognized, this scorecard consciously emphasizes the positive over the negative issues. Five positive and three negative issues were chosen to rate the House members, and four positive and two negative issues were chosen to rate members of the Senate. Marks on the positive issues were used to identify the candidates for the “Hall of Fame,” while negative marks identify candidates for the “Hall of Shame.”

As a result, 10 senators scored in at least two positive columns and no negative columns, and 27 representatives figured in at least four positive columns and no negative columns to qualify as nominees for the Hall of Fame. On the other side, 11 senators received both negative marks and no positive ones, and 42 representatives scored in all three negative columns and no positive ones to qualify for the Hall of Shame.

Again for this scorecard, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) is named an honorary member of the House Hall of Shame, because, even though he did not meet the selected criteria, he clearly belongs. Claiming to be champions of human and civil rights, Lantos and such other champions of Israel as Howard Berman (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), ignoring the human and civil abuses committed daily by Israel against Palestinians, hypocritically signed on as co-sponsors of the hate crimes bill. Lantos, however, qualifies for permanent Hall of Shame recognition for his wanton abandonment of U.S. national interest in favor of Israel. Among his “accomplishments” was the sponsorship of the amendment to the Foreign Affairs Authorization bill that would cut off all aid, including humanitarian and educational assistance, to Lebanon. Shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, during a House Middle East subcommittee hearing, Lantos asked all those present to stand for a moment of silence—not in honor of the thousands of victims of the attacks, but in honor of one Israeli colonist who had been killed in occupied Palestine. In addition, Lantos routinely demands roll call votes on issues affecting Israel, so AIPAC can take names.

The Issues

THE HOUSE: The Positives (+)

1. Israel solidarity. In April 2002, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) introduced H.RES. 392, the one-sided Israel Solidarity resolution, which includes 10 non-binding statements of support for Israel and condemnations of the PA and President Yasser Arafat. The resolution passed on May 2. Although AIPAC made this a major test of loyalty, 50 members put U.S. interests first and voted either No or Present, and these 50 rate a positive mark.

2. Balanced cease-fire. In October 2001, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) introduced a balanced resolution, H.CON. RES. 253, urging the cessation of hostilities in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and endorsing the recommendations of the Mitchell report. Since then, four other more or less balanced resolutions have been introduced urging a stop to the violence in the Middle East and a return to negotiations. The co-sponsors of these resolutions are recognized with a positive mark.

3. Hate crimes. In April 2001, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced a hate crimes prevention bill, H.R. 1343, that would provide federal assistance to states and local jurisdictions to investigate and prosecute crimes motivated by race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. The 207 co-sponsors receive a +.

4. Iraq. In June 2001, 45 representatives wrote to Secretary of State Colin Powell saying that it is time to delink economic sanctions from the military sanctions against Iraq. Later, in December 2001, the House passed a resolution, H.J.RES. 75, saying that Iraqi President Saddam Hussain’s refusal to allow U.N. inspectors presents a threat to the U.S., its friends and allies. 27 representatives voted No or Present. A + indicates one of those 52 representatives who signed the letter and/or did not vote for H.J.RES. 75.

5. Aid to Lebanon. 210 representatives voted against the Lantos amendment to stop aid to Lebanon. They are recognized in column 5.

THE HOUSE: The Negatives (X)

6. Anti-PA/Arafat resolutions. In May 2001, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) introduced H.R. 1795, which would impose sanctions on the PA if it didn’t comply with a series of commitments. Subsequently, in January 2002, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) introduced H.R. 3624, which would prohibit any form of U.S. direct or indirect assistance to the PA. Then, in May 2002, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced H.R. 4693, a stronger version of the Ackerman bill, attacking Arafat personally and imposing sanctions, with no presidential waiver provision, unless Arafat and the PLO publicly condemn all acts of terrorism and “destroy the infrastructures of terrorism.” The three bills’ co-sponsors, with considerable overlap, get negative marks.

7. Anti-PA/Arafat letters. Members of Congress sent numerous anti-Palestinian or anti-Arafat letters to Powell or President George W. Bush during the 107th Congress. However, the two gaining the most signatures appear to be the AIPAC-drafted April 2001 letter to Bush urging “a reassessment of U.S. relations with the Palestinians,” with 190 signatures, and the March 2002 letter (also drafted by AIPAC) to Bush commending him for his criticism of Arafat and urging that he go further by adding the al Aqsa Brigade, the Tanzim, and Force 17 to the U.S. list of terrorist organizations, with 235 signatures. Those signing one or both of the letters are marked in column 7.

8. Syria accountability. In April 2002, House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) introduced the AIPAC-drafted Syria accountability bill, H.R. 4483, which would impose a list of sanctions on Syria unless it ends its support for terrorist groups, withdraws its forces from Lebanon, and stops developing ballistic missiles and biological and chemical weapons. The bill’s 135 co-sponsors are shown with an X in column 8.

SENATE: The Positives (+)

A. Israel solidarity. The Senate version of the Israel solidarity resolution was introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) in April 2002 and passed by the full Senate in May, with only Sens. Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Ernest Hollings (D-SC) voting against it. These two deserve positive marks.

B. Anti-PA/Arafat letters. As with the House, the two anti-Palestinian letters gaining the most signatures appear to be the April 2001 letter to Bush urging “a reassessment of U.S. relations with the Palestinians,” with 87 signatures, and the March 2002 letter to Bush commending him for his criticism of Arafat and urging that he go further by adding the al Aqsa Brigade, the Tanzim, and Force 17 to the U.S. list of terrorist organizations, with 52 signatures. Those 11 senators who did not sign either letter receive a + in column B.

C. Hate crimes. The Senate version of the hate crimes prevention bill, S. 625, was introduced in March 2001 by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). It now has 51 co-sponsors, who are shown with a + in column C.

D. Cultural bridges. Senator Kennedy was also the author of the “cultural bridges” bill, S. 2505, introduced in May 2002. The bill would establish an international exchange visitor program under which eligible students from the Islamic world would attend U.S. public secondary schools. The bill’s 13 co-sponsors receive a + in column D.

SENATE: The Negatives (X)

E. Anti-PA/Arafat bills and resolutions. Two bills have been introduced in the Senate which, to one degree or another, place all the blame for the violence in the Middle East on the PA and Arafat. S. 1409, introduced in September 2001 by Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is the Senate version of H.R. 1795 (see House #6 above). It has 41 co-sponsors. S. 2194 was introduced in April 2002, also by McConnell and Feinstein, and is the Senate version of H.R. 4693, described in House #6 above. It has 38 co-sponsors. Co-sponsors of either or both of these bills rate a negative mark in column E.

F. Syria accountability. The Senate version of the Syria accountability bill, described in House #8 above, S. 2215, was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in April 2002. It now has 33 co-sponsors, who get an X in column F.

Click here for a pdf version (592k) of this entire article, which includes the Report Card for the 107th Congress (2nd Session)

Hall of Fame Hall of Shame
Senate

Pro-Israel PAC
Donations (Career)

Senate

Pro-Israel PAC
Donations (Career)

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) $261,425 Wayne Allard (R-CO) $ 31,350
Robert Byrd (D-WV) 67,500 Max Baucus (D-MT) 306,848
Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) 15,000 Jim Bunning (R-KY) 36,850
Thad Cochran (R-MS) 21,000 Conrad Burns (R-MT) 165,010
Christopher Dodd (D-CT) 182,928 Mike Crapo (R-ID) 14,000
Chuck Hagel (R-NE) 4,500 Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) 30,000
James Jeffords (I-VT) 34,050 James Inhofe (R-OK) 68,500
Edward Kennedy (D-MA) 66,120 Jon Kyl (R-AZ) 77,525
Patrick Leahy (D-VT) 118,200 Rick Santorum (R-PA) 45,750
Richard Lugar (R-IN) 43,200 Jeff Sessions (R-AL) 42,300
Robert Smith (R-NH) 35,500
House Pro-Israel PAC
Donations (Career)
House Pro-Israel PAC
Donations (Career)
Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) 12,075 Spencer Bachus (R-AL) 10,500
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) 2,000 Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)
Xavier Becerra (D-CA) Henry Bonilla (R-TX) 1,000
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) 2,000 Ed Bryant (R-TN)
David Bonior (D-MI) 24,000 Eric Cantor (R-VA) 25,550
Rick Boucher (D-VA) 15,650 Brad Carson (D-OK)
Michael Capuano (D-MA) Howard Coble (R-NC)
Eva Clayton (D-NC) 500 Robert Cramer (D-AL) 38,300
John Conyers (D-MI) 2,500 JoAnn Davis (R-VA) 3,750
Peter DeFazio (D-OR) Lincoln Diaz-Balert (R-FL) 5,000
John Dingell (D-MI) 10,500 Chet Edwards (D-TX) 13,850
Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) 1,500 Phil English (R-PA)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) 2,750 Randy Forbes (R-VA) 500
Dale Kildee (D-MI) 23,500 Bart Gordon (D-TN) 55,900
Ron Kind (D-WI) Sam Graves (R-MO)
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) 14,500 Felix Grucci (R-NY)
Barbara Lee (D-CA) 0 J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) 3,500
Jim [George?] McDermott (D-WA) 1,000 Tim Holden (D-PA) 4,000
Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) 7,250 Jack Kingston (R-GA) 500
George Miller (D-CA) Tom Lantos (D-CA)* 73,650
James Oberstar (D-MN) Ken Lucas (D-KY) 2,000
Donald Payne (D-NJ) 21,250 Scott McInnis (R-CO) 8,500
David Price (D-NC) 52,827 Butch Otter (R-ID)
Nick Rahall (D-WV) 0 Mike Pence (R-IN) 2,000
Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 3,500 David Phelps (D-IL) 1,000
Jose Serrano (D-NY) 0 Joseph Pitts (R-PA) 500
Pete Stark (D-CA) 12,750 Todd Russell Platts (R-PA) 250
Jim Ramstad (R-MN)
Jim Saxton (R-NJ) 60,650
Edward Schrock (R-VA) 3,750
John Shadegg (R-AZ)
E. Clay Shaw (R-FL) 44,600
Ronnie Shows (D-MS) 3,500
Christopher Smith (R-NJ) 44,750
Mark Souder (R-IN)
John Sullivan (R-OK)
Thomas Tancredo (R-CO) 1,500
Lee Terry (R-NE) 500
Patrick Tiberi (R-OH)
David Vitter (R-LA) 10,500
Zach Wamp (R-TN)
Jerry Weller (R-IL) 21,400
Joe Wilson (R-SC)
* Honorary member

In case anyone thinks it doesn’t pay a congressman well to follow Israel lobby instructions, here are some examples of what happens when you vote against the lobby (first column) or for it (second column). Clearly, it pays. But why the inconsistencies, with some Hall of Famers receiving money from PACs directed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel’s principal lobby, and some Hall of Shamers receiving nothing?

There are several possible reasons. Some members of Congress have pledged to their constituents that they won’t take money from PACs at all. It doesn’t mean, however, they didn’t earn lots of “soft money” by their actions on behalf of Israel, or that they didn’t get lots of large contributions from pro-Israel individuals in their areas. It’s just that we can’t document it.

And why are there names in the “Hall of Fame” who nevertheless have received generous funding from AIPAC’s PACs? Sometimes it represents a mid-career switch in voting patterns—perhaps because they belatedly saw how unquestioning support of Israel was hurting peace, the United States, and even moderates in Israel itself. Or sometimes close to the end of their service incumbents start voting from considerations of conscience rather than career. In any case, support for anyone in the Hall of Fame can’t go wrong, just as support for any opponent to those in the Hall of Shame can only yield a change for the better.

—Hugh Galford