Senate Passes Gardner, Rubio, Risch, McConnell Bill to Strengthen US Security in Middle East, Bolster Israel Alliance & Sanction Syria’s Dictatorship

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Foreign Relations Chairman James Risch (R-ID), and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) welcomed the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 (S. 1) in an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 77 to 23.    


This legislation would make improvements to defense and security assistance provisions in the Middle East, bolster the U.S.-Israel strategic alliance by authorizing security assistance to Israel over a 10-year period pursuant to the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, reauthorize 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.


“This legislation would enhance our alliances in the Middle East, condemn the heinous human rights abuses of the Assad regime, and take a strong stance against the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic BDS movement,” said Senator Gardner. “We have no stronger ally in the Middle East than the state of Israel, and I am pleased the Senate today passed this important bill that will help stop the spread of radical Islamic extremism and fight terrorism. I urge the House of Representatives to quickly take up and pass this bipartisan bill and look forward to President Trump signing it into law.”
“Despite the growing influence of pro-BDS voices on the Left, a bipartisan supermajority in the Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the pro-Israel Combating BDS Act and other bipartisan measures included in the Strengthening America’ Security in the Middle East Act,” Rubio said. “This bill’s security cooperation provisions will boost America’s important alliances with Israel and Jordan amid the Middle East’s growing dangers from the Iranian regime and the many terrorists groups who operate in the region. This bill will also hold the Syria’s Assad regime and its supporters accountable for their egregious human rights and crimes against humanity. I urge Speaker Pelosi to quickly take up and pass this important bill in the House of Representatives so that the President can sign it into law.”
“I am glad to see passage of this incredibly important legislation concerning our diplomatic activities in the Middle East,” Chairman Risch said. “It offers much-needed support and aid to our allies in the Middle East, Israel and Jordan, and provides protections to U.S. state and local governments that choose to oppose anti-Israel boycotts. Notably, it extends strong sanctions and crippling economic tools that target the Assad regime and its allies in Syria who are responsible for the tragic loss of half a million lives and ongoing atrocities in that country. This bill is an example of bipartisanship, and I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their support.”


In December of 2018, Gardner and several of his colleagues sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urging them to take action against the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.