WASHINGTON – For the second time in less than a year, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., plans to introduce the Visa Waiver for Israel bill in the U.S. House.
The legislation would make Israel the 38th country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, which allows individuals traveling to the United States for business or tourism to remain for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. Sherman has the support of 34 House cosponsors, and a bipartisan partnership with Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.
“Israel is the strongest ally the United States has in the Middle East,” Poe said.
Poe hopes to improve the strong trade relations that already exist between the nations, while strengthening their diplomatic bonds as well.
Since 2000, the Israeli private sector has invested over $50 billion in the United States.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., was surprised that Israel wasn’t already part of the program.
“Why in the world hasn’t this happened before?” Maloney said.
Maloney serves as the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. Her support of the bill is indicative of its financial ramifications.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., expects to introduce the same legislation in the Senate next week, strengthening Rep. Sherman’s cause.
“It will make life in Israel just a little more pleasant,” Sherman said.