February 05, 2019

Chairman Risch, Rubio, Gardner, McConnell Welcome Senate Passage of Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) welcomed the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 (S. 1) in an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 77 to 23.

“I am glad to see passage of this incredibly important legislation concerning our diplomatic activities in the Middle East,” Chairman Risch said.  “It offers much-needed support and aid to our allies in the Middle East, Israel and Jordan, and provides protections to U.S. state and local governments that choose to oppose anti-Israel boycotts. Notably, it extends strong sanctions and crippling economic tools that target the Assad regime and its allies in Syria who are responsible for the tragic loss of half a million lives and ongoing atrocities in that country. This bill is an example of bipartisanship, and I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their support.”

"Despite the growing influence of pro-BDS voices on the Left, a bipartisan supermajority in the Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the pro-Israel Combating BDS Act and other bipartisan measures included in the Strengthening America’ Security in the Middle East Act,”Rubio said. “This bill’s security cooperation provisions will boost America’s important alliances with Israel and Jordan amid the Middle East’s growing dangers from the Iranian regime and the many terrorists groups who operate in the region. This bill will also hold the Syria’s Assad regime and its supporters accountable for their egregious human rights and crimes against humanity. I urge Speaker Pelosi to quickly take up and pass this important bill in the House of Representatives so that the President can sign it into law.”

“This legislation would enhance our alliances in the Middle East, condemn the heinous human rights abuses of the Assad regime, and take a strong stance against the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic BDS movement,” Gardner said. “We have no stronger ally in the Middle East than the state of Israel, and I am pleased the Senate today passed this important bill that will help stop the spread of radical Islamic extremism and fight terrorism. I urge the House of Representatives to quickly take up and pass this bipartisan bill and look forward to President Trump signing it into law.”

This package of bipartisan bills from the last Congress bolsters American and allied security in the Middle East by (1) authorizing U.S. security assistance to Israel over a 10-year period pursuant to the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, (2) reauthorizing the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, (3) imposing new sanctions against Syria’s Assad regime and its supporters for their egregious human rights abuses, and (4) empowering state and local governments in the United States to counter the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s discriminatory economic warfare against the Jewish state. The legislation now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives.

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