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Sherman Response to “Israelis Likely to Keep Waiting in Long U.S. Visa Lines in Sherman vs. Boxer”

by Pini Herman

April 16, 2013 | 5:09 pm

Sherman Response to Jewish Journal Blog Post by Pini Herman, “Israelis Likely to Keep Waiting in Long U.S. Visa Lines in Sherman vs. Boxer”

Congressman Brad Sherman

April 16, 2013

For reasons I do not understand, Mr. Herman finds conflict between Senator Boxer and me regarding legislation that would add Israel to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.  There is no conflict.

In January 2013, I reintroduced a stand-alone bill, H.R. 300, to add Israel to the Visa Waiver Program.  Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Orrin Hatch introduced a similar bill, S. 266, in the Senate.  Senator Barbara Boxer introduced the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act (S.462), which has several provisions to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations – including a section that will add Israel to the visa waiver program.  The Senator’s bill declares Israel a “major strategic partner” of the United States and expands U.S.-Israel cooperation on defense, homeland security, energy, and science.

The visa waiver provisions in Senator Boxer’s bill are very similar to the provisions in my bill (and those in Senator Wyden’s bill).  All three bills have identical provisions on reciprocal treatment for U.S. citizens.  The bills require the Secretary of Homeland Security to determine that Israel must make every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens (see comparison below).

I first introduced the Visa Waiver for Israel Act in May 2012 along with lead cosponsor Ted Poe and 11 other colleagues; 34 members of Congress cosponsored my bill.  Support for the bill has widely expanded with its reintroduction this year.  There are 74 members of Congress cosponsoring the new bill in the House.

Adding Israel to the Visa Waiver Program will boost business in America and enhance economic, scientific, and cultural ties between the U.S and Israel.  Israelis can visit most of Europe as well as Canada, and several other countries around the world, visa-free, but not the United States.  Americans can visit Israel without first obtaining a visa; we should add our democratic ally and friend Israel to the Visa Waiver Program and allow Israelis to visit the United States visa-free.

The Jewish Journal Blog claims there is a “Boxer vs. Sherman” fight over the reciprocity provisions of the Israel visa waiver bill.  In fact the provisions on this issue are identical:

Sherman-Poe bill, both H.R. 300 (113th Congress) and H.R. 5850 (112th Congress)

Clause: Section 2, (c) (5)

The government of Israel has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal privileges are extended to all United States citizens.

Boxer-Blunt bill, S.462 (113th Congress)

Clause: Section 9, (2) (ii)

the Government of Israel—

`(ii) has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens.'.

Wyden-Hatch bill, S. 266 (113th Congress) 

Clause: Section 3, (2)

The Government of Israel has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal privileges are extended to all United States citizens.

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