Senate to Overcome Filibuster of Middle East Policy Bills
‘So if it weren’t obvious, these are critically important issues. And none of them have been put on “pause” because the Democrats’ political strategy has blocked this body from taking action. Due to the Democrats’ filibuster, Israel, Jordan, and the innocent people of Syria have already had to wait 24 days for the Senate to proceed to these uncontroversial and widely-supported bipartisan bills. So, I hope our colleagues across the aisle don’t keep them waiting much longer.’
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, and obstruction from Senate Democrats:
“Later this afternoon, the Senate will hold its fourth cloture vote on a package of important foreign-policy legislation that was introduced back on January 4th. For weeks, now, Senate Democrats have effectively filibustered this legislation and blocked it from moving forward. At first, my colleague the Democratic Leader said his party was simply opposed to considering any other business during the partial government shutdown.
“But then, just a few days later, he actually sought to move ahead with a foreign policy vote of his own. In other words, though Senate Democrats were filibustering this pro-Israel legislation with the thin excuse that they didn’t want to take up any other business, it turns out it was just the pro-Israel legislation that was off-limits. And while Senate Democrats were filibustering this legislation, by the way, the Democratic House had no problem considering one component of it. It passed the House by voice vote.
“So I remain curious as to the real reason why the Democrats insisted on filibustering these critical bills. Maybe we’ll get a better explanation this week -- assuming that Democrats finally drop that filibuster and allow this body to get back to its work. This is important legislation and it comes at an urgent time.
“For the past eight years, the world has seen a despotic regime wage brutal war upon its own people. The conflict in Syria has taken more than 400,000 lives and driven more than 5.6 million civilians to flee the country, straining the capacity of nations in the region and Europe to deal with the refugee and humanitarian fallout. Bashar al-Assad and his cronies have paved the way for the persistent terror of the Islamic State and invited the chaotic influence of foreign powers, especially Iran and Russia. And of course, this is a region that already contends with persistent instability, including Iran’s meddling, financial support for terror, and explicit threats to Israel.
“But the legislation at hand addresses these challenges head-on. It tells our ally Israel that our commitment to its security is ironclad. It tells our partners in Jordan that we have their backs as they grapple with the flow of refugees and other ongoing effects of the Syrian crisis. And it makes a crystal-clear statement to the Syrian regime and those who abet it: Your brutality needs to end.
“Here’s how the legislation accomplishes all that. It makes sure that the United States ‘walks the walk’ when it comes to supporting Israel by authorizing military assistance, loan guarantees, and teamwork on missile defense. Another bipartisan provision would preserve communities’ rights to combat the destructive ‘BDS movement’ by ensuring that states and local governments can choose not to funnel taxpayer dollars to companies that push anti-Israel boycotts.
“With respect to Jordan: The bill before us reauthorizes legislation to deepen our cooperation with this key regional partner, which has faced grave challenges from the chaos that continues to unfold in its neighbor to the north. And with respect to Syria itself: This legislation includes the bipartisan Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. As I mentioned, this passed the House by voice vote just last week.
“It would create new pathways to hold accountable the individuals and institutions that have tortured and murdered countless Syrian civilians over the course of the civil war. It would ensure that, unless the Syrian regime shifts course and ends its brutality, the nation’s major industries and financial institutions would be pay a heavy price due to American sanctions.
“So if it weren’t obvious, these are critically important issues. And none of them have been put on ‘pause’ because the Democrats’ political strategy has blocked this body from taking action. Due to the Democrats’ filibuster, Israel, Jordan, and the innocent people of Syria have already had to wait 24 days for the Senate to proceed to these uncontroversial and widely-supported bipartisan bills. So, I hope our colleagues across the aisle don’t keep them waiting much longer.”
Related Issues: Syria, Israel, America's Military, National Security