Lawmakers Protest Vacancies in Anti-Semitism Office

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The National Association of Jewish Legislators, in conjunction with more than 60 state senators, recently published a letter urging President Trump to fill the vacancy in the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Created under the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, the Office of the Special Envoy is required by law, with a “special envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism.” The Trump administration has left this top position empty, and recent events have hinted the office may remain empty for the duration of Trump’s presidency.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified before the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee’s state and foreign operations subcommittee on June 14.

“One of the things that we are considering — and we understand why [special envoys] were created and the good intentions behind why they were created — but one of the things we want to understand is by doing that, did we weaken our attention to those issues?” he asked.

National and state elected leaders have reacted strongly to Tillerson’s address and rumors about the office being eliminated.

Democratic Pennsylvania state Sens. Daylin Leach and Judith L. Schwank and state Reps. Dan Frankel and Michael Schlossberg were among the signees of the July 7 letter from the National Association of Jewish Legislators, along with Democratic New Jersey state Sens. Bob Gordon and Loretta Weinberg and Republican Robert Singer.

In the letter, they explained their backgrounds “as state legislators representing diverse communities that often deal with anti-Semitism” and called on the President to “appoint a Special Envoy to help eradicate anti-Semitism.”

Nationally, 116 members of the House of Representatives called on Tillerson to maintain the Office of the Special Envoy. In a letter issued July 6, the politicians questioned whether Tillerson will comply with their budget, which requires funding for the Office of the Special Envoy and the appointment of a Special Envoy.

The lawmakers wrote: “we urge you to maintain staff in the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, which is crucial to ensuring U.S. efforts against global anti-Semitism match the scale and severity of threats to Jewish communities on the ground.”

Local congressmen who signed the letter include Chris Smith (R-NJ), who co-authored the letter, Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Bob Brady (D-Pa.), Donald Norcross (D-NJ) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

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