Following an extra-large outcry over her co-sponsorship of a bill that would criminalize participating in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions effort against Israel, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand told constituents that she would seek changes to the bill before voting for it.
At a town hall last night, Gillibrand was pressed by constituents on her support for the Anti-Israel Boycott Act, a bill that would subject people who support the UN and the EU's BDS campaigns to a fine of at least $250,000 and potentially prison time.
Gillibrand responded to a question from her constituents at a Flushing town hall yesterday afternoon by telling them that she would "not support the bill in its current form" and that she would not support it unless the bill's authors add language specifying the punishments only extend to corporations and not individuals, according to Crain's.
The bill's defenders, including Senator Chuck Schumer, have claimed that the proposed law just updates the Export Administration Act of 1979. That law, which prohibits US companies from participating in boycotts led by other countries against US allies, currently doesn't include intergovernmental organizations, like the EU and the UN Commission on Human Rights, who have supported the BDS movement.
Despite that argument, the ACLU came out hard against the bill. While taking no position on BDS itself, the organization sent a letter to senators urging them not to co-sponsor the bill "because it would punish individuals for no reason other than their political beliefs." Despite that letter, the bill picked up three co-sponsors since July 17th, Republicans Tom Cotton, Thom Tillis and Joe Kennedy.
Gillibrand is still listed as a co-sponsor of the bill as of this time. A spokesperson for Senator Schumer reiterated that the senator is supportive of the bill.