Senate Democrats on Tuesday voted against the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, which included several bills that are significant to Israel.
The act was voted down in a 56-44 count, several votes short of the 60 required to advance to the next legislative stage. Democrats said they will block the bill until government is reopened.
“Democrats are sacrificing our security and the security of our allies to try to score political points,” Ted Cruz (R-Texas) stated after the vote. “Today was a missed opportunity for the Senate to unite in order to provide critical assistance and protection to Israel and Jordan, and to show the Assad regime that it cannot continue to commit crimes with impunity.”
As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Cruz joined Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and James Risch (R-Idaho) in support of the bill, which would provide security assistance to Israel, enhance the US’ defense partnership with Jordan, hold the Assad regime in Syria accountable for human rights atrocities, and combat the anti-Israel boycott movement.
The legislation includes three bipartisan measures.
The first, the US-Israel Security Authorization Assistance Act of 2018 would ensure that Israel, as an ally to the US, is provided with military support and access to weapons needed to defend itself against any and all security threats.
The US-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act would continue the US-Jordan partnership to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis and work to promote regional stability and enhance Jordan’s military capacity.
One of the acts most crucial to Israel is the Combating BDS Act of 2018, which would reaffirm US states and local governments’ authority to identify and divest assets such as pensions, retirement funds or contracts with an entity including a company that engages in commerce related boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) activity against Israel.
Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Rhode Island have passed bills fighting boycotts against Israel.
More than 20 states are considering, or have passed, legislation targeting companies that comply with the anti-Israel BDS movement, and many countries around the world have introduced and passed similar laws.
Speaking ahead of the vote, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon lent support to the act and said it was time to “boycott the boycotters.”
“The US Congress is again at the forefront of the effort to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. This legislation is another tool in the important campaign to stop the BDS movement, which, in the clearest expression of modern anti-Semitism, demonizes and singles out the world’s only Jewish state,” he stated before the bill was voted down.
“The time has come to boycott the boycotters and prove to the BDS supporters that their lies will pay a heavy price,” he stated, while expressing his hope that other countries would join the US in “standing against anti-Israeli activity on all fronts in the campaign to expose the truth.”
By Aryeh Savir/TPS