Middle East Policy Legislation Would Help Protect Allies, Strengthen Israel Relationship
‘The security of our ally Israel continues to be challenged by the long reach of the Iranian regime and its affiliates. In Syria, the Assad regime has made its own nation a graveyard for hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians -- and the resulting chaos continues to provide Iran and Russia opportunities to expand their malign influence throughout the region. That’s why the Senate is going to vote later today to take up pressing legislation that tackles all of this head-on.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the S. 1 foreign policy legislation that he introduced with Senators Rubio, Risch and Gardner:
“For years, America’s vital interests in the Middle East have been jeopardized by regional chaos. The security of our ally Israel continues to be challenged by the long reach of the Iranian regime and its affiliates. In Syria, the Assad regime has made its own nation a graveyard for hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians -- and the resulting chaos continues to provide Iran and Russia opportunities to expand their malign influence throughout the region. That’s why the Senate is going to vote later today to take up pressing legislation that tackles all of this head-on.
“The bill at hand would reaffirm the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security and authorize military assistance, cooperative missile defense, and loan guarantees. It would counter an aggressive and hostile attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel through economic boycotts. It would also reauthorize efforts to strengthen defense cooperation with Jordan, as its people and government grapple with the security and humanitarian ramifications of the Syrian crisis. And importantly, the legislation also includes the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. This provision would hold accountable the individuals responsible for the senseless evils of the Assad regime and impose severe penalties on the entities that support them.
“So, we’ll vote later today on whether or not members of this body believe these are issues we should be addressing. It’s my sincere hope that the Senate will approve these bipartisan proposals and send the strong message of support that our friends and partners in the Middle East deserve. During the last Congress, there was broad agreement on both sides of the aisle on the need for action. I expected today’s action to be a big, bipartisan vote -- not some partisan showdown.
“But over the past few days, something seems to have happened. The Democratic Leader and several of his colleagues have stood up and said they want to block the Senate from even considering this legislation. Never mind that it includes legislation co-sponsored by Senate Democrats last Congress. Never mind that Senate Democrats mentioned the Syria crisis dozens of times last month, here on the Senate floor. In spite of all that, some Democrats have now threatened to block us from even taking up this legislation later today. Why? Because we’re 18 days into the partial government shutdown caused by Democrats’ total unwillingness to negotiate with the White House over border security.
“Democrat intransigence has made sure that a quarter of the federal government has been shut down for more than two weeks. Now they’re threatening to shut down the Senate, too. They’ve gotten the government to shut down for two weeks, now they want to shut the Senate down. They’re threatening to shut down efforts to protect our allies and strengthen our relationship with Israel -- something they all recently claim to support.”
Related Issues: National Security, Israel, America's Military, Syria