Washington — The House Republican leadership blocked a vote calling for a moment of silence to memorialize Israeli athletes and coaches slain at the 1972 Olympics.
Resolution 663 was not voted on this week in the U.S. House of Representatives because the body’s leadership does not allow what it calls commemorative resolutions to come to the floor for a vote, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the legislation, told JTA.
In 2011, the House leadership agreed to ban most such resolutions in an effort to speed up the voting process.
“Today they allowed a resolution of outrage against what happened in Aurora, Colo.,” Engel said of his GOP colleagues, referring to last week’s massacre at a Denver-area movie theater that left 12 dead and 58 wounded. “They did that and I felt that the moment of silence should have been one of” the exceptions.
The resolution, for which Engel was the main sponsor and had GOP co-sponsors, unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats, passed a similar resolution 100-0.
“This is not just some commemorative resolution commemorating some Rotary club,” Engel added. “This is something of paramount importance and substantive importance, and it was topical.”
Engel said he recently approached Cantor on the House floor about the matter.
“Eric’s a friend and he was sympathetic and offered to do a letter with me or a press conference, but he felt that since they had this prohibition that he couldn’t make an exception,” he said. Republicans “can’t say that they were for it because they wouldn’t vote on it.”
A Cantor spokesperson confirmed that Cantor and Engel spoke about the matter, and that Cantor was willing to help in the ways outlined but could not violate the House leadership’s rules.