U.S. representatives claimed their colleague, Rep. Ilhan Omar, was anti-Semitic when she brought up AIPAC’s influence over members of Congress.
by Alex Kotch
Part 3 - Lobbying and Traveling with Congress
As the Center for Responsive Politics points out, other pro-Israel groups put more money directly into elections than AIPAC, but federal lobbying is where the group spends the bulk of its money in politics. AIPAC leads all pro-Israel groups in lobbying spending by a long shot. Each year since 2014, AIPAC has spent north of $3 million to lobby the federal government.
AIPAC has logged several victories under Trump, including the relocation of the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Obama-era Iran Deal, and cuts in U.S. aid to Palestinians.
While the organization’s lobbyists try to woo Congress, AIPAC also funds annual trips to Israel for senators and representatives. McCarthy tweeted on Monday that leading congressional trips to Israel is one of his “greatest honors.” According to Legistorm, AIPAC’s charity arm has spent $15.7 million on congressional visits to Israel since 2000. On gift travel disclosures, AIPAC says the purpose of these trips is “educating policymakers about the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
In addition to frequent lobbying and regular trips to Israel, AIPAC hosts an annual convention in Washington that many top politicians attend. According to Quartz, “AIPAC’s command over U.S. politicians was evident [in March 2016], when presidential candidates Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton all spoke in person at AIPAC’s annual convention.”
At the 2018 convention, speakers included Vice President Mike Pence, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and a number of the U.S. representatives who criticized Omar for her tweets on AIPAC’s political influence on Monday: Ted Deutsch (D-Fla.), now-Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Engel, McCarthy, now-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.).