Monday, November 24, 2014

Bill to Prohibit "Boycotting Persons"

A bill was recently introduced in the House that, if passed, will require contractors and prospective contractors to certify that they are not "boycotting persons".  Anyone who has gone through the certification and representations section of SAM (System for Award Management) is well aware of the checklist certs and reps that are already required. This bill would add one more certification to the list.

Although the Bill itself does not mention Israel, Congressman Doug Lamborn's (CO) news release does. He calls it the Bill to prevent US Government Contracts from Going to Participants in the BDS Movement. The BDS Movement (Boycotts, Divestitures, and Sanctions) is a worldwide movement to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to end its occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, to provide full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to respect the right of return of Palestinian refugees. The news release reads;
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. (read the full news release here).

The term "boycotting person" means a person who takes or knowingly agrees to take any of the actions described in the next paragraph, with the intent to comply with, further, or support any boycott against a country with which the United States has a free trade agreement and which is not itself the object of any form of boycott pursuant to United States law or regulation.

The "actions" referred to in the previous paragraph include refusing, or requiring any other person to refuse, to do business with or in the boycotted country, with any national or resident of the boycotted country, or a business concern organized under the laws of the boycotted country.

The penalties for false certification are harsh. If it is determined that a person (i.e. a contractor) has submitted a false certification, the contract will be terminated and the person will be debarred and ineligible for any Federal contracts for at least two years.

Now, this bill could prove problematic for some contractors, individuals, and educational institutions who are already engaged in various forms of boycotting.

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