Monday, 18 March, 2019


Democrats block Middle East bill in the Senate over shutdown

Democrats block Middle East bill in the Senate over shutdown Democrats block Middle East bill in the Senate over shutdown
Bennie Garza | 10 January, 2019, 19:29

If passed, the legislation would authorise $3.3bn annually in US military support for Israel, reauthorise the US-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act and impose financial sanctions on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and companies or banks that do business with Syria.

Rubio and other critics suggest Democratic opposition to the bill is clear evidence of the anti-Zionism which has crept into the party.

Republicans increased their Senate majority to 53 to 47 in November's elections, but they still needed at least seven Democratic "yes" votes for the act to move ahead.

Democrats are banking on Republicans caving once federal employees go without a paycheck starting Friday.

A growing coalition of Senate Democrats - hailing primarily from states that have a large population of federal workers, as well as the contingent of senators eyeing presidential bids in 2020 - say the chamber should not vote on anything else until the shutdown ends.

"It's absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity", Sanders said in reference to the anti-BDS measure. "This bill does not prevent individuals from participating in their first amendment rights, but simply allows states and local governments to divest from entities that are engaged in discriminatory practices against the State of Israel".

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of ME was spotted on Wednesday huddling with fellow Republican Sens. Reps. Peter King (R-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), who'd voted for one earlier funding bill, voted against this one.

The US government is now entering its third week of a shutdown as President Donald Trump has refused to sign any funding legislation that does not include $5 billion for a border wall with Mexico.

And a Van Hollen spokesman pointed to his tweet and that of Cardin in responding to Rubio.

The President and vice president continued making their case to Senate Republicans at a Capitol Hill lunch Wednesday, urging the conference to stand together in the President's push to get $5.7 billion for the border wall. "This is the USA where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality". Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away, ' she added, in response to a post by Senator Bernie Sanders.

The sanctions are part of a package of security-related bills, introduced by Florida Republican Marco Rubio and supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Kentucky legislator said last week that the Senate would not discuss any bill to end the shutdown that Trump would not sign. Ben Cardin's office emailed Cardin's official comment: "We should not stand idle when foreign countries or worldwide governmental organizations use BDS tactics to isolate one of our key allies and bypass direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians".

It's the White House, she said, that keeps moving "the goalposts". "As I've stated clearly, the Senate will not waste floor time on show votes, messaging votes, or any other proposals which fail to check those boxes regarding the funding bills".

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