On Wednesday, the US Senate blocked the invoking of unanimous consent of a bill introduced by US Sen. Ted Budd, R-NC, on Tuesday despite an impassioned plea by Budd. The legislation would put pressure on leaders in Qatar, where leaders of terrorist group Hamas have taken refuge, and possibly start the process of releasing hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, including Chapel Hill native Keith Siegel.

Budd, along with US Sens. Joni Ernst, R-IA, and Rick Scott, R- FL, introduced ‘Reviewing Qatar’s Major Non-NATO Ally Status Act.’ 

The bill would require the Secretary of State to certify the following:

  • It is in the national interest of the United States for Qatar to maintain its designation as a major non-NATO ally.
  • Qatar has exerted any and all leverage it has over Hamas to secure the release of United States hostages from Gaza.
  • Qatar does not directly or indirectly support, financially or otherwise, acts of international terrorism or foreign terrorist organizations, including Hamas.
  • Qatar has expelled or agreed to extradite to the United States any individuals determined to be members of Hamas, including Ismail Haniyeh, Khalil al-Hayya, Khaled Mashal, and any other individuals bearing responsibility for the terror attack on October 7, 2023.

If the Secretary of State cannot make this certification in good faith, then the President is required to immediately terminate the designation of the State of Qatar as a major non-NATO ally.

US Sen. Ted Budd, R-NC, April 10, 2024. Source: Sen. Budd’s YouTube page.

Budd said it was the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust, includes the murder and kidnapping of US citizens, and the hostages still being held by Hamas are being deprived of food, water, and medicine while being subjected to unbearable violence, abuse, and torture.

“This is personal for Americans, but it is particularly important to those of us in North Carolina,” he said. “One of our fellow citizens is among those still being held, Keith Siegel. Seeking the release of hostages demands strength and moral clarity. We demand it from our own leaders, and we should require it from our major allies.”

Budd said it was time for our nation to reexamine who we can count on to be on our side, and who stands on the side of the terrorists. He said Qatar hosts Hamas leaders in the capital of Doha, and Qatari officials initially claimed that they were exercising leverage on Hamas. But they have since changed their tune, now saying that they don’t have any leverage, and are now promoting a ceasefire regardless of the release of the hostages. 

The truth, he said, is that Qatar does have significant leverage over Hamas and has the ability to expel the terrorists if they don’t release the hostages or at least engage in reasonable negotiations.

Hamas has refused to accept multiple deals that Israel has offered, nor have they been flexible in negotiating terms. 

Budd said Hamas is not interested in releasing the hostages, Qatar seems equally uninterested in forcing them to do so, and now it’s time to do something about it.  

“Since 2022, Qatar has enjoyed major non-NATO ally status,” he said. “This designation is a privilege that nations like Qatar must continuously earn. Failure to take action against Hamas is beginning to look like tacit support for a foreign terrorist organization designated by the United States. This is not acceptable behavior for a major non-NATO ally.”

After the blockage of the bill, Budd said that this is more than just a bilateral relationship between the two nations.

US Sen. Ted Budd, R-NC, April 10, 2024. Source: Sen. Budd’s YouTube page.

“This is about the well-being of US citizens and a native of my home state, North Carolina,” he said. “So, while the Senate won’t be able to pass this today because of the objection, it’s my hope that we can work through the committee process to get this bill across the finish line. But, more importantly, while Qatar has done less than hoped and expected and other allies like Egypt have thankfully stepped up to fill the unfortunate void, let this bill be a tool to move the hostage negotiations forward and secure the release of all the hostages being held in Gaza.” 

Budd, along with fellow US Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, has been urging Qatar to step up the pressure in negotiations with Hamas for the release of 134 hostages, including 8 Americans, with one of them being Siegel.

Rep. Kathy Manning Hosts Aviva Siegel, Hostage Family Members. Source: Rep, Manning’s YouTube page.

Siegel’s wife, Adrienne “Aviva” Siegel, was one of the hostages released in November. She spoke on Wednesday at a press conference at the US Capitol hosted by Congresswoman Kathy Manning, D-NC-06. The Siegel’s daughter, Shir Siegel, stood alongside her mother to call for her father’s safe return.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.