On Nov. 6, Americans elected a solidly pro-Israel Congress, with many new members. While polarized on many issues, the 116th Congress remains committed to the U.S.-Israel relationship on a bipartisan basis.
Virtually all of the new members elected this month have issued position papers and statements reflecting their strong support for Israel’s security and her efforts to reach peace with all her neighbors. This is an impressive achievement and a remarkable statement about Israel, and it could not have been done without the political activism of pro-Israel Americans around the country. But there is still important work that must be done.
AIPAC is committed to continuing to work on a bipartisan basis with the 116th Congress to further galvanize support for the alliance.
The Results: New Records and Continued Support
When all the votes are counted, there could be at least 90 newly elected House members, representing more than 20 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives—the fifth or sixth highest number of incoming freshmen since World War II.
With the election of at least 35 new women, there will be a record number of female members of Congress in January 2019. More than 100 women will be members of the House, far surpassing the last Congress’ previous record of 84 women.
There are also eight new Jewish members of Congress—increasing the total net number in the House from 23 to 28 and from seven to eight in the Senate.
Lastly, an estimated 114 million Americans, or more than 49 percent of eligible voters, voted in this year’s elections—the highest turnout of any midterm election in 104 years. This represents a more than 32 percent increase over the turnout for the 2014 midterms.
While there were many firsts this election, one notable consistency remains: The overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans express strong support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Members of the pro-Israel community have already begun to build relationships with the new members. AIPAC’s lay leaders and staff held more than 400 candidate meetings, resulting in more than 300 position papers on the U.S.-Israel relationship in this election cycle. And four of the new members have already attended an educational seminar in Israel hosted by AIPAC’s educational foundation, the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF).
The Work Ahead
Turnover of this magnitude means that some longtime supporters are leaving Congress. The large number of new members, coupled with the serious and complex security issues confronting Israel, means there is plenty of work to do for the pro-Israel community. We look forward to deepening our personal relationship with all new members, from both parties, to promote the U.S.-Israel alliance.
Of note, a small number of newly elected members issued troubling statements about Israel during their campaigns. These members represent a small proportion of Congress, and we believe that the pro-Israel majority in the freshman class will keep these views from having a broad influence. Moving forward, we must work to ensure that the majority view remains in the majority.
We must now work to expand the knowledge of each new member of Congress. Each must gain a deeper understanding of the moral and strategic importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and the complexities of the region.
Visiting Israel, seeing firsthand her borders and meeting with her people and leaders, from across the political spectrum, is the best way for members of Congress to become familiar with the issues affecting the partnership between the United States and our closest ally in the Middle East. AIPAC’s AIEF looks forward to taking many of these newly elected members of Congress on an educational seminar to Israel next August.
We are clear-eyed about the challenges we face but overwhelmingly optimistic about the opportunities. We view this election not as an end point but as a starting point.
Our work together is vital, and the need for AIPAC is as strong as ever.
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