A press release this week from Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, famous for his almost total inability to pass legislation in Congress, announces his latest big idea:
Today I introduced H.R 5727 to thwart efforts by Palestinian organizations to pressure different corporations, companies and educational institutions to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel. Sadly, just yesterday we heard that some in the European Union are drafting new regulations with a similar aim. These attacks and the falsehoods being spread about Israel are harmful to any honest effort to bring peace to the region.
My bill will require that any prospective contractors with the U.S. Government will certify that they are not boycotting a country with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement. The bill also includes penalties for false certifications, including the ability to ban companies that breach its parameters from doing future business with the U.S. Government. Our government business practices should not play any role in harming our greatest ally in the Middle East.
Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, a place where all men and women enjoy freedom regardless of their faith or ethnicity. In fact Jewish owned factories and companies in Israel and in Judea and Samaria are among the chief employers of the Palestinian community. Palestinian workers get equal pay and equal treatment and enjoy benefits.
We respect the great sensitivity of the debate over Israel and the occupied territories under her control inhabited by Palestinian Arabs. Setting that aside for a moment, it's worth noting that the United States has free trade agreements was many more nations than Israel, who would presumably also be shielded from boycotts by American companies also doing business with the federal government under Lamborn's bill. So everyone's clear, that includes the free trade agreements in place today between the United States and Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, Peru, and Singapore. There is also a pending trade agreement with many more nations proposed as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
So, next time the King of Bahrain decides it's time to brutally crush a protest movement, or things get nasty in Nicaragua again human rights-wise, or Singapore breaks out the rattan cane on another punk American vandal…no boycotts, folks! And to make sure the greatest possible chilling effect is achieved, Lamborn's bill is worded broadly to ensure both federal contractors and anyone "owned or controlled by the [contractor] is not a 'boycotting person.'" Which could cover a lot of people unrelated to the federal contract in question.
Bottom line: it's another in-all-likelihood stillborn bad idea from Doug Lamborn–so bad, in fact, that we think he may have actually thought of it himself as opposed to it being written by a lobbyist.