Senate Republicans are focusing on the Middle East as 2019 begins. Florida Senator Marco Rubio and other Senate Republicans unveiled the “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act” at the end of the week.President Trump announced that troops would be withdrawing from Syria, and the move received both praise and criticism. Trump’s former 2016 primary opponent was critical of the decision to withdraw American forces.
Speaking on the legislation, his office noted that it “would make improvements to defense and security assistance provisions in the Middle East, bolster the U.S.-Israel strategic alliance by authorizing the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, provide new authorities for sanctions against Syria’s Assad regime and its supporters, and empower 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.”
Rubio also added that “It is in America’s national security interests to ensure that our allies in the Middle East like Israel and Jordan remain secure amid the region’s growing destabilizing threats posed by Iran and Syria’s Assad regime. This important bill will also impose new sanctions against the Assad regime and its supporters who continue to commit horrific human rights violations against the Syrian people. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to quickly pass and enact this critical piece of legislation.”
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Republican James Risch, a senator from Ohio and cosponsor of the bill, stressed that the legislation would be beneficial because it will be “finishing the world of the last Congress. Israel and Jordan have been steadfast allies of the United States that deserve this support. Also, it is vital to confront Syrian government atrocities and end discrimination against Israel. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee reviewed these bills last Congress and they had near unanimous support. It is time to move them forward.”
The legislation has also received a cosponsorship from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who works closely with the president.