Senate to Take Up Middle East Policy Bills
‘Yesterday, the senior Senator from Florida introduced a package of four bills that pertain to U.S. policy in the Middle East. I am a proud co-sponsor of this legislation, along with Senators Risch and Gardner. It speaks directly to some critical American interests in the Middle East: Our security cooperation with key partners Israel and Jordan, and the ongoing humanitarian and security catastrophe of the Syrian civil war.’
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:
“Yesterday, the senior Senator from Florida introduced a package of four bills that pertain to U.S. policy in the Middle East. I am a proud co-sponsor of this legislation, along with Senators Risch and Gardner. It speaks directly to some critical American interests in the Middle East: Our security cooperation with key partners Israel and Jordan, and the ongoing humanitarian and security catastrophe of the Syrian civil war.
“First, this legislation recognizes the growing threat Iran, Syria, Hizballah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups pose to the state of Israel, and aims to strengthen key elements of our relationship with our closest partner in the Middle East. It affirms that the United States needs to ‘walk the walk’ and authorizes military assistance, cooperative missile defense, and loan guarantees. It encourages closer U.S.-Israel technological cooperation to better address 21st-century threats. And it clearly states that it is official U.S. policy to help Israel preserve its qualitative military edge over those who might wish it harm.
“The legislation also recognizes the security, economic, and humanitarian challenges the ongoing conflict in Syria poses to the people and government of Jordan, and reauthorizes important legislation aimed at deepening our defense cooperation with this important regional partner. In addition, the bill contains a bipartisan provision from Senators Rubio and Manchin to combat the ‘BDS movement’ -- an aggressive and hostile attempt to delegitimize and economically boycott the State of Israel.
“This legislation gives state and local governments across America more flexibility to limit their own business relationships with entities that support this horrible effort to hurt our ally. In effect, this provision allows jurisdictions to ‘boycott the boycotters,’ and make sure they don’t send taxpayer dollars to companies who embrace this anti-Israel posture.
“Now, with respect to the ongoing conflict in Syria -- There are differing views about the role of the U.S. military with respect to the threats emanating from Syria. There is no question that we continue to face serious challenges from Al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria, as well as from Iran, Russia, and the Assad regime itself. And I anticipate this body will debate U.S. military strategy towards Syria in coming weeks as it conducts oversight over the Administration’s apparently ongoing review of its policies.
“There are no easy solutions in Syria. I hope the administration and the Congress will be deliberate and sober as we consider the risks of various approaches to the end-game of the fight against the physical caliphate of ISIS. After all, American lives, critical national security interests, and the future of a turbulent yet critical region are at stake. That debate is forthcoming. I imagine it could be contentious. There should be little debate, however, about the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which has overwhelming bipartisan support and the endorsement of the administration.
“This bill, which is included in this package, speaks to the human tragedy of the Syrian civil war. It provides non-military tools for responding to the atrocities conducted by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It will hold accountable those responsible for the torture and murder of countless Syrian civilians, and provide more leverage for diplomats to end the conflict through peaceful negotiations, consistent with the demands of UN Security Council resolution 2254. Unless the Syrian regime changes course, ends its brutality against the Syrian people and negotiates a peaceful end to the civil war, the butchers of Damascus will find their key financial institutions and industries sanctioned by the United States.
“This bill will not bring back the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who’ve been murdered or tortured by the regime, but it will be another arrow in the quiver of diplomats who are seeking to end this awful war and stabilize a region of critical importance to the United States and its allies.
So I am proud to co-sponsor the package of legislation that Senator Rubio introduced yesterday. I am clearing the way for the bill, S. 1, to be debated and voted on here on the Senate floor as early as next week. And I look forward to voting to pass this important bill.”
Related Issues: National Security, War on Terror