While members of the Trump administration and select American VIPs are celebrating the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, dozens of Palestinians reportedly are being killed during protests along the Gaza border, with hundreds more wounded. The violence is, in part, a response to the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, one of many reasons why the previous three presidents stalled on making such a move and the clearest sign that the Trump administration isn’t interested in a two-state solution since it deputized Jared Kushner to reach one. Meanwhile, everyone appears to be having a great time at the ceremony.
If you’re looking for a forceful, or even nuanced, response to the Trump administration’s provocation, though, you won’t get it from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
“In a long overdue move, we have moved our embassy to Jerusalem,” Schumer said in a statement Monday morning. “Every nation should have the right to choose its capital. I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it.” This is Schumer’s long-held position, though one might have expected a caveat or two on a tragic day partially sparked by an extremely controversial decision.
But at least Schumer’s being consistent. If you hear other leading Democrats protest the move today, consider how they’ve voted.
The 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which provided for the relocation, passed the Senate 93–5 and the House 374–37. Though most of the Democrats who voted for that are gone, not all of them are. In addition to Schumer, Sens. Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Pat Leahy, and Patty Murray voted for it, as did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The bill allowed presidents to repeatedly waive the embassy relocation if they found it in the United States’ national security interests. That’s how President Clinton, who signed the bill, as well as Presidents Bush and Obama regularly postponed the move.
Supporting the embassy move was a relatively easy position for legislators to take, as long as there were presidents willing to allow the bill to gather dust. Last year, they all took the easy vote again. A Senate resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, that “reaffirms the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 as United States law, and calls upon the President and all United States officials to abide by its provisions,” passed the chamber 90–0.
Yes, it’s just a resolution. Democrats who might have objected to the embassy relocation may have decided it wasn’t worth it to fight over a line. But they voted for it! The current president is a glaring reminder that you shouldn’t vote for things that rely on the responsible stewards in the executive branch not to enforce them.