NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY
New members of Congress have expressed their support for a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.
The House’s current makeup is 240 Republicans and 190 Democrats, with five races (all involving Democratic incumbents) still undecided as of this writing.
112th Congress Expected to be Most
Despite the many changes brought about by the 2010 midterm elections, the incoming 112th Congress is expected to be the most pro-Israel Congress ever. Many of Israel’s strongest supporters were reelected.
Sixteen new senators have been elected to the 112th Congress. Republicans have picked up a net gain of six seats in the upper chamber. The newly-elected Senate consists of 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats (Sens. Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders).
AIPAC lay leaders and staff have established relationships with every new senator, and have received position papers on U.S. Middle East policy from all of the freshmen-to-be. In those papers, the new members of Congress express their support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. Many also emphasize the danger of Iran’s nuclear program and other issues important to U.S. policy in the region.
In the House, Republicans gained 60 seats as of press time, and at least 93 new representatives have been elected—84 Republicans and 9 Democrats. The chamber’s current makeup is 240 Republicans and 190 Democrats, with five races still undecided at press time.
Below are brief profiles of the new senators. New House members will be featured in future editions of Near East Report.
Four-term Rep. John Boozman (R) defeated two-term incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D), winning 58 percent of the vote in the Natural State. During his eight years in the House, Boozman was a vocal supporter of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
“The bond between our nations and our peoples have never been stronger,” he said last year on the House floor. “The United States could not ask for a better friend and ally in the region, and I assure the Israeli people that they will always be able to depend on the United States and the American people.”
Boozman also spoke out strongly on the threat of Iran while in the House. “The prospect of an emboldened nuclear Iran is a threat to Israel, a threat to the United States and a threat to us all, and we cannot stand idly by in the face of this danger,” he said in May 2009.
Connecticut (Open Seat)
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) captured 54 percent of the vote to defeat World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon (R) in the race to fill the seat of retiring five-term Sen. Chris Dodd (D).
Blumenthal, who met with AIPAC, has a number of cousins who live in Israel and authored a position paper in which he wrote about visiting the Jewish state in 1976 with the then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
The trip taught him that “Israel is not only an ally of strategic necessity, but a partner with deeply-held commitments to America’s own foundational values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, religious freedom, and the pursuit of international peace.”
He added, “It is critical that the United States continue to support Israel as a free, peaceful and Jewish state. Clearly, my close ties to the Jewish homeland constantly remind me that peace and stability in Israel must remain a top priority in the United States Senate.”
Delaware (Open Seat)
New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D) took 57 percent of the vote in besting Christine O’Donnell (R). Coons will replace Sen. Ted Kaufman (D), who was appointed to fill the Senate seat of Vice President Joe Biden (D) and did not seek election.
Coons met with AIPAC and has visited Israel. “I will always be a staunch supporter of the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel, and, if elected, will seek to ensure its strength and foster its growth,” Coons wrote in his position paper. “I am committed to a safe and secure Israel and a more stable Middle East. We cannot ensure that America will be safe, strong and secure otherwise.”
Florida (Open Seat)
Former State House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) took 49 percent of the vote, defeating Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) to win the three-way contest for the seat being vacated by Sen. George LeMieux (R). LeMieux was appointed in August 2009 following the resignation of Sen. Mel Martinez (R).
Rubio met with AIPAC and authored a position paper in which he discussed his work as a state legislator to deter Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. “As Speaker of the Florida House, I supported landmark legislation to require Florida’s pension funds to divest from companies doing business with Iran and Sudan, making ours the first state to do so,” he wrote.
“In doing so, we set a strong example for how individual states can play a part in applying economic pressure on Iran that can ultimately help curb the regime’s nuclear pursuits.”
Illinois (Open Seat)
Five-term Rep. Mark Kirk (R) defeated State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) with 48 percent of the vote to win the seat being vacated by Sen. Roland Burris (D), who was appointed to replace then-Sen. Obama when he was elected president. Kirk served on the House Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee and has played a leadership role on issues affecting the U.S.-Israel relationship.
“Despite its desire for peace with its neighbors, the people of Israel are forced to defend their right to exist on a daily basis,” Kirk said in 2009. “From Gaza to Lebanon to Syria to Iran, the enemies of Israel are clear in their objectives—the total annihilation of the democratic and Jewish State of Israel. We cannot and will not let that happen.”
Kirk has spoken repeatedly of the importance of tough sanctions to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. “A nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the United States, Israel and democracies around the world,” he wrote in a letter to President Obama this year. “Collective action to counter this emerging threat remains the most important issue of our time.”
Indiana (Open Seat)
Former Sen. Dan Coats (R) was reelected to the Senate, defeating Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) with 55 percent of the vote to fill the seat of retiring two-term Sen. Evan Bayh (D). Coats previously served in the Senate from 1989-1999.
“An Iranian attack on Israel would cause chaos in the Middle East, enormous disruption of our economy, and eliminate an ally that’s stood by us through thick and thin,” Coats said in February 2010 in an interview with the magazine Human Events. “That is not acceptable for Israel. That cannot be acceptable for the United States. So we absolutely have to, I think at this point, very significantly ramp up the pressure against Iran.”
Kansas (Open Seat)
Seven-term Rep. Jerry Moran (R) captured 70 percent of the vote in beating college dean Lisa Johnston (D) in the race to replace Sen. Sam Brownback (R), who left the Senate and won the governorship.
Moran has been a staunch supporter of Israel during his time in the House. “The United States’ connection to the state of Israel is both strong and deep; we are connected through decades of history, culture, business and geo-political interest,” he said on the House floor last year. “We care about the people of Israel who strive for what we have struggled for in the United States—the ability to live in security, peace, and prosperity. The well-being of our friends in Israel was, is and will remain an American priority. As Israel’s closest ally, we have an obligation to see to it that Israel and its neighbors reach a peaceful end to ongoing conflict.”
Kentucky (Open Seat)
Ophthalmologist Rand Paul (R) defeated Attorney General Jack Conway (D) with 56 percent of the vote in the race to fill the seat of retiring two-term Sen. Jim Bunning (R). Paul met with AIPAC and authored a position paper in which he wrote about the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel.
“With our shared history and common values, the American and Israeli people have formed a bond that unites us across the many thousands of miles between our countries and calls us to work together towards peace and prosperity for our countries,” he wrote. Paul also stressed in the paper that “Only Israel can decide what is in her security interest, not America and certainly not the United Nations. Friends do not coerce friends to trade land for peace, or to give up the vital security interests of their people.”
Missouri (Open Seat)
Seven-term Rep. Roy Blunt (R) captured 54 percent of the vote to defeat Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) in the race to replace retiring four-term Sen. Kit Bond (R). Blunt, a former House Republican Whip, was a strong supporter of Israel’s right to self-defense while in the House.
“The House of Representatives is committed to Israel’s defense as a sovereign, independent, Jewish state,” Blunt said on the House floor in 2004. “Its democratically-elected leaders face enormous challenges defending Israeli citizens in the face of a terrorist threat.”
He also backed strong sanctions on Iran, saying in 2008 that “we need to focus on the danger of allowing the president of Iran, a man who has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and is willing to support terrorist organizations such as Hamas and others, to be in control of the most dangerous weapons in the world.”
Former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) won 60 percent of the vote to defeat Rep. Paul Hodes (D) and replace three-term retiring Sen. Judd Gregg (R). Ayotte met with AIPAC and wrote a position paper in which she pointed out that her husband’s service as an Air Force pilot in Iraq had taught her family about “many of the dangers in this region and the numerous threats that the people of Israel face. My family and all of New Hampshire deeply appreciate the strong friendship and sustained support for American security that Israel provides us.”
Ayotte added that it is “imperative” that the United States “makes clear that our support for Israel’s safety and security is steadfast,” and that “we must both demonstrate and back up our resolve to ensure Israel’s safety and security against threats it faces across that region.”
Ten-year Gov. John Hoeven (R) soundly defeated State Sen. Tracy Potter (D) with 76 percent of the vote to fill the seat of retiring three-term Sen. Byron Dorgan (D).
Hoeven met with AIPAC and authored a position paper in which he said he expected to serve on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He pledged to “look for opportunities to work together with Israel on energy development” that would “enhance the security of both our nations and will help reduce our reliance on unstable nations for our energy needs.”
Hoeven also noted that Israel “has extensive experience on the latest technology and strategies in counter-terrorism and asymmetrical warfare” and said that “increasing opportunities for our militaries and homeland security officials to share resources and training will improve security and discourage rogue nations from aiding terrorist groups.”
Former Rep./U.S. Trade Representative/Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman (R) won 57 percent of the vote to defeat Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) in the race to replace retiring two-term Sen. George Voinovich (R).
Portman has visited Israel, and in his position paper said he “will work to bring stability to the region as a United States senator.” He added, “I consistently voted in favor of foreign aid packages during my time in Congress, and I worked to eliminate the Arab League boycott of Israel during my time as United States Trade Representative. I am proud of my efforts to protect Israeli sovereignty and the people of Israel.”
Former three-term Rep. Pat Toomey (R) narrowly defeated two-term Rep. Joe Sestak (D), winning 51 percent in the race to replace five-term Sen. Arlen Specter (D), who lost in the Democratic primary.
Toomey met with AIPAC and traveled to Israel in 1999. In his position paper, Toomey wrote that the trip was “moving on a personal and spiritual level. No one who takes their faith seriously, as I do, can leave Israel without a profound sense of the historical and biblical importance of the land, and without a profound respect for the manner in which the Israeli government and people treat the holy sites.”
Toomey also strongly defended “Israel’s fundamental right to self-defense, including protecting its borders and responding to and preventing terrorist attacks from any sources.”
He added, “Israel has endured decades of terrorism and war, and, in fact, has acted toward its enemies with more restraint than would most any other country. When Israel has taken military action, it has always done so in self-defense, and it should be supported in its defensive efforts.”
Mike Lee (R), former general counsel to Gov. Jon Huntsman (R), captured 61 percent of the vote to defeat UT Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission Chair/businessman Sam Granato (D). Lee will replace three-term Sen. Bob Bennett (R), who came in third at his party’s nominating convention this year.
Lee met with AIPAC and visited Israel last year. In his position paper, Lee wrote that he “acquired a great affinity for Israel and its people” and “walked away even more convinced that Israel and the United States share interests that cannot be compromised.”
Gov. Joe Manchin (D) won 54 percent of the vote to defeat businessman John Raese (R) in the race to fill the remaining two years of the late-Sen. Robert Byrd's (D) term. The current senator, Carte Goodwin (D), was appointed in July to fill the seat through the November 2 special election.
Manchin met with AIPAC and authored a position paper in which he discussed the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship. “I believe in the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel and will always seek to ensure Israel’s strength and foster its growth,” he wrote. “I will work to achieve a safe and secure Israel and a more stable Middle East because that will help make America safe, strong and secure.”
Businessman Ron Johnson (R) defeated three-term Sen. Russ Feingold (D) by a 52 to 47 percent margin.
Johnson authored a position paper in which he defended Israel’s “fundamental right to self-defense against those that seek to destroy the country or would aid its enemies.” He added that “the rise of authoritarianism, intolerance and terrorist violence represents a mutual threat to our survival, and we must stand together in deterring war and working toward peace, especially in the Middle East.” BACK TO TOP