‘A Broad Consensus About American Leadership In The World’

Significant Bipartisan Vote Showcases Senate Support For Israel And Jordan And Sanctioning Syria, Highlights Foreign Policy Divisions Among Democrats


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “The Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act would renew our commitment to Israel’s security, expand cooperation with Jordan, and impose new consequences on the perpetrators of Assad’s brutality in Syria. But when America’s national security and vital interests are at stake, some circumstances require not only the use of important diplomatic tools but also direct involvement from the United States. That’s why I introduced an amendment to S. 1 – so the Senate can speak clearly and directly about the importance of our nation’s ongoing missions in Afghanistan and Syria. I know that a broad consensus about American leadership in the world exists in this body. It is time to reaffirm our commitment to this vision and to the men and women fighting on the ground to uphold it.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/04/2019)


Senate Passes Bill To Bolster America’s Allies In The Middle East With Broad Bipartisan Support

“The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation aimed at boosting Israel's defense capabilities … ‘This represents the broad consensus of this body about our nation’s responsibilities as an ally and a partner,’ said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., before the Senate voted. The Senate backed up that assessment, as the bill passed in an easy 77-23 vote.” (Washington Examiner, 2/05/2019)

  • “The bill, also called the Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act, rolls together four bills that were supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the last Congress but weren't ultimately enacted before the year ran out.” (NBC News, 1/03/2019)
  • “The bill includes language opposed by some Democrats that would allow states to stop working with companies that support the Palestinian-backed boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement to boycott Israeli businesses.” (Washington Examiner, 2/05/2019)
  • “Other parts of the Senate bill aim to bolster U.S. support for allies who neighbor Syria and are thus on the front lines of pushing back against the extremist threat in Syria as well as Iran's presence there. One piece boosts U.S. defense cooperation with Jordan while another authorizes continued U.S. financing to Israel to buy American weapons and allows the U.S. to transfer its own munitions to Israel in an emergency.” (NBC News, 1/03/2019)


A Large Bipartisan Majority Voted To Adopt The McConnell Amendment

The Senate voted 70-26 to adopt the McConnell amendment. (S.1, Roll Call Vote #14: Adopted 70-26: R 46-4; D 23-21; I 1-1, 2/04/2019)

“Perhaps the most significant vote was taken by the Senate last week on a resolution written by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) … The text warns that ‘the precipitous withdrawal of United States forces’ from either Syria or Afghanistan ‘could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security.’ Forty-three Republican senators helped pass the measure by a lopsided 68-to-23 vote.” (Editorial, The Washington Post, 2/04/2019)

  • “Led by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate advanced an amendment 68-23 to a broader Mideast policy measure that warned against a ‘precipitous withdrawal’ from the Middle Eastern nation. The measure was attached to a broader Mideast policy bill that the Senate is still debating…. McConnell's resolution urges the Trump administration to conduct a thorough review of its strategy regarding Syria, including an assessment of the risks of withdrawal, and calls on the administration to certify the enduring defeat of al-Qaida and ISIS before any significant withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria or Afghanistan. ‘ISIS and al-Qaida have yet to be defeated. And American national security interests require continued commitment to our missions,’ McConnell said on the Senate floor.” (NPR, 1/31/2019)


But Democrats Are Divided On Both Protecting Israel And Ensuring The Success Of U.S. Missions In Afghanistan And Syria

“The bill, which passed the Senate 77-23, divided Democrats … In Tuesday’s final vote, 25 Democrats voted in favor of the bill, while 22 voted against it…. The final passage of the Middle East policy package comes after Democrats blocked previous attempts to move forward …” (Politico, 2/05/2019)


‘[V]irtually Every Senator Considering A White House Run Voted Against The McConnell Resolution’

“Mr. McConnell attached the amendment to a bill intended to extend aid to Israel and offer protections to state and local governments that refuse to do business with companies that boycott Israel. The Senate advanced the main bill on Tuesday on a 76-to-22 vote, with all the negative votes coming from Democrats.” (The New York Times, 1/29/2019)

“Senate liberals, many of them exploring presidential runs in 2020, voted against the measure … Several prospective candidates, including Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, had endorsed Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan…. And virtually every senator considering a White House run voted against the McConnell resolution, including Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Ms. Gillibrand, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.” (The New York Times, 1/31/2019)


‘Legislation Designed To Shield Israel From Boycotts Is Dividing House Democrats’

“Legislation designed to shield Israel from boycotts is dividing House Democrats, pitting those who want to protect their Middle Eastern ally against liberal lawmakers … The issue could pose a dilemma for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) …” (“Dems Face Internal Battle Over BDS Bill,” The Hill, 2/03/2019)

  • “[Sen. Marco] Rubio’s bill [part of the larger S. 1 package], slated for final passage this week, would empower states to penalize companies that participate in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement … Twenty-two Senate Democrats — including a number of 2020 presidential hopefuls — voted to block the bill's advancement in the upper chamber last week…. A handful of [newly elected House Democrats] have been vocal supporters of the BDS movement, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) … and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) … Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the most prominent member of the new crop of Democrats, is also an outspoken supporter of the movement …” (“Dems Face Internal Battle Over BDS Bill,” The Hill, 2/03/2019)



Related Issues: War on Terror, National Security, Senate Democrats, Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, Israel, ISIL