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Rubio, Risch, Gardner, McConnell Introduce Bill to Strengthen U.S. Security in Middle East, Bolster Israel Alliance & Sanction Syria’s Dictatorship

Jan 3, 2019 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Risch (R-ID), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today introduced the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 (S. 1). 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.
“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,” Rubio said. “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.”
“This package of legislation is an important step toward finishing the work of the last Congress. Israel and Jordan have been steadfast allies of the United States that deserve this support,” Risch said. “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.”
“I am proud to sponsor this legislation, which enhances our alliances in the Middle East, condemns the heinous human rights abuses of the Assad regime, and takes a strong stance against the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic BDS movement,” Gardner said. “This bill greatly enhances our national security and I urge its quick and bipartisan passage into law.”
The SASME Act incorporates four bipartisan bills that Congress nearly enacted into law in 2018: 

  • Rubio-Coons United States-Israel Security Authorization Assistance Act of 2018 (S. 2497EAH).  Passed by Senate in voice vote on August 1, 2018.  Amended and passed by House of Representatives in voice vote on September 12, 2018.  Hotlined by Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 2018.
  • Ros-Lehtinen-Deutch United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act (H.R. 2646RS).  Passed by House of Representatives in voice vote on February 5, 2018.  Reported by Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November 29, 2018.  Hotlined by Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 2018.
  • Engel-Royce Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2018 (H.R. 1677RS).  Passed by House of Representatives in voice vote on May 17, 2017.  Reported by Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 3, 2018.  Hotlined by Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November 2018.
  • Rubio-Manchin Combating BDS Act of 2018 (S. 170).  Hotlined by Senate Banking Committee in November 2018.