Why Did Five Lawmakers Vote Against A Holocaust Education Bill?

Although H.R. 943, the Never Again Education Act calling for federally-mandated Holocaust Education, overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives Monday, five Congressmen dug in their heels voting “no.”

Those five lawmakers are Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Justin Amash (I-MI), Jodey Arrington (R-TX), and Tom Rice (R-SC). Rep. Norman was the first lawmaker to release a statement, which he explained as a matter of reserving the decision to state legislators. Three others, Reps. Amash, Arrington and Rice, shared in their colleague’s sentiment as a decision to further limit the federal government’s power.

Before the bill was passed, Holocaust education was only mandated in twelve states including in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. The number is shockingly small.

“With only a handful of states mandating Holocaust education and the explosive rise in antisemitism we are seeing, the Federal Government needs to step in,” StopAntisemitism.org’s Liora Rez told this reporter.

Last week, this reporter spoke to several Gen-Zers attending college in Washington D.C. A shocking number of them couldn’t tell me how many Jews were killed in the Nazis’ state-sponsored genocide. Only one student out of the seven students I spoke with could recall that 6 million Jews were killed.

Rep. Ralph Norman

Rep. Norman issued a statement Wednesday via a press release.

“Let there be no doubt about my record on fighting antisemitism: I am a member of three separate caucuses opposing anti-Semite and a cosponsor of many more bills and letters that combat BDS, support the state of Israel, and raise awareness of the increase in violence and vitriol against Jewish people at home and abroad,” Rep. Norman said.

“My vote on H.R. 943 was not motivated by my views on antisemitism, but about my views on the role of the federal government and its lack of fiscal restraint.”

Further, Norman believes that a decision on education is “reserved for the States under the Constitution.” The decision was based more on “principle” for him, according to his statement.

He continued, “So although I wholeheartedly agree with the need and appropriateness of teaching future generations about the horrors of the holocaust, I do not believe it is appropriate for the federal government to demand it.”

“Additionally, I am convinced that the Department of Education already has the resources necessary to complete this program, and am not prepared to appropriate even more funds, with no accountability or offsets, at a time when our national debt is exceeding $23 trillion.”

Rep. Justin Amash

Rep. Amash’s office told this reporter that the Congressman’s “no” vote was “because the bill further increases federal involvement in education.”

“Rep. Amash has consistently voted against giving the federal government greater control over education policy with respect to a wide variety of topics because he believes education policy and curricula are best handled at the state and local level,” Rep. Amash’s office said in a statement to SaraACarter.com.

Rep. Tom Rice

Rep. Tom Rice argued his decision was based on the billions of federal dollars spent each year on education, and that money, he said in a statement to SaraACarter.com, is already allocated to Holocaust education.

“Yesterday, I opposed the Never Again Education Act. As I’m sure you’re aware, the federal government spends billions on education every year, including education about history in general, and the Holocaust in particular,” Rep. Rice wrote in a statement to SaraACarter.com

“With respect to antisemitism and the Holocaust, the federal government undertakes numerous efforts both here and abroad to memorialize and educate. As just one of these many efforts, the federal government funds the Holocaust Memorial Museum and Holocaust Memorial Council to the tune of over $50 million a year. Since its creation in 1993, The Holocaust Memorial Museum has effectively educated people of all ages while also preserving millions of artifacts and providing teacher fellows in every US state. I could not support adding to our deficit to fund another duplicative federal program.”

Rep. Jodey Arrington

Rep. Arrington’s office told SaraACarter.com that although the Congressman “strongly agrees with the sentiment of the bill”, it is an issue of reserving power to the state so not to ‘grow the federal bureaucracy.’

“Representative Arrington is steadfast in his support for our ally Israel, the Jewish people, and our constitutional religious liberties,” Rep. Arrington’s office said in a statement to SaraACarter.com.

“He believes H.R. 943 The Never Again Education Act, like a lot of legislation, was well-intended and strongly agrees with the sentiment of the bill – that we must educate every generation about the atrocities of the Holocaust and ensure it never happens again. However, growing the federal bureaucracy and expanding the Department of Education’s role in public education, which is an issue of state sovereignty and local responsibility, is the wrong approach. States and local school boards, NOT Washington, should ensure our children are getting the best education – including on the subject of the Holocaust and human atrocities of all kinds, in all places and against all peoples.”

Rep. Thomas Massie

In his statement to SaraACarter.com, Rep. Massie said he earlier introduced H.R. 899, a bill “To Terminate The Department of Education.” His vote is consistent with limiting funding to the Department.

“The bill authorizes $10 million dollars in spending for the Department of Education, a department that I’ve introduced legislation to eliminate (H.R. 899). Furthermore, the bill directs money to develop content for the web site of the privately funded Holocaust museum. The surest way to ruin a private web site is to let the federal government work on it.”

This story has been updated with a response from Rep. Massie.

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