House passes bill raising level of anti-Semitism envoy position to ambassador


(JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that upgrades to ambassador level the position of 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.

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.

“Tragically, anti-Semitism is on the rise across the globe,” Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., co-chair of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating anti-Semitism, said in a statement following the legislation’s passage in the House. “The bipartisan Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act reinforces our nation’s leadership in fighting this scourge by elevating the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to the rank of Ambassador and ensuring that the Special Envoy is solely focused on this important task.

“History teaches us that anti-Semitism is defeated only when it is confronted directly. The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act is a strong step forward as Congress seeks to defeat global anti-Semitism.”

The other co-chairs of the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism who cosponsored the bill are Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J.; Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; Kay Granger, R-Texas; Ted Deutch. D-Fla; and Marc Veasey, D-Texas.

The legislation still must pass the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the full Senate.

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