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Senate Democrats Block Bipartisan Middle East Bill Over Ongoing Shutdown for 3rd Time

Should Congress pass these bills related to Syria?

by Countable | Updated on 1.14.19

(Updated 1/14/19 at 6:15pm ET): For the third time in the past two weeks, Senate Democrats blocked the bipartisan Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, arguing that no bills should be considered unless the Senate votes on bills to end the partial government shutdown.

The bill failed on a 50-43 vote, with Democrats Senators Joe Manchin (WV), Doug Jones (AL), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) joining with Republicans to vote in favor once again.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) changed his vote to 'no' for procedural reasons so that he could file a new cloture motion on the bill, which could be considered as early as Wednesday.

Countable's previous updates appear below.


(Updated 1/10/19 at 2:30pm ET): For the second time this week, Senate Democrats filibustered the bipartisan Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, arguing that no other legislation should be considered until a bill ending the partial government shutdown is brought up for a vote. The same four Democrats joined all present Republicans in voting for the bill, which needed 60 votes to advance but failed on a 53-43 vote.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed a new cloture motion for the bill after changing his vote to 'no' for procedural reasons. The new motion could be considered when the Senate reconvenes next week.

Countable's previous update appears below.


(Updated 1/8/19 at 6:20pm ET): Senate Democrats followed through with their pledge to filibuster the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act until funding to reopen the government is considered. The bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to limit debate in a 56-44 vote, which saw all Republicans and four Democrats ― Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Doug Jones (AL), Bob Menendez (NJ), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) ― vote to consider the bill.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed a new cloture motion for the bill after changing his vote to 'no' for procedural reasons. The new motion could be considered later in the week.

Countable's original story appears below.


With the White House’s Syria strategy shifting away from a near-term withdrawal toward a drawdown that won’t start until key criteria are met, both chambers of Congress are set to take up bills this week aimed at increasing pressure on the Assad regime to end the conflict.

The Senate will vote Tuesday on a bill ― the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act ― that contains four measures that received bipartisan support in the last Congress. It includes the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which would take the following steps to bring the war in Syria to an end:

  • Impose new sanctions on persons or entities who provide the Assad regime with financing, aircraft or parts (and related financing), telecommunications services, or support the Syrian energy industry.
  • Encourage negotiations to end the crisis by suspending sanctions if parties to the conflict are engaged in meaningful negotations and violence against civilians has stopped.
  • Help investigations that will eventually lead to the conviction of war criminals by authorizing the State Dept. to support entities that are collecting and preserving evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.

The bill also contains bipartisan measures aimed at strengthening security alliances with Israel & Jordan and countering the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

But despite the bipartisan nature of the bill, Senate Democrats are expected to block the bill in Tuesday’s procedural vote, arguing that the Senate shouldn’t take up legislation unrelated to ending the partial government shutdown. (When Democrats controlled the Senate during the partial government shutdown of October 1-16, 2013, they held confirmation votes on two bipartisan judicial nominations and advanced a Farm Bill on a voice vote.)

While the broader Middle East policy bill seems stalled in the Senate, the House is expected to take up the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act as a standalone bill later in the week.

House Democratic leadership is bringing the bill up under the fast-track “suspension of the rules” process, which allows a bill to pass with less debate if it has the support of at least three-fifths of voting members. Given that the bill’s predecessor in the previous Congress passed the House on a voice vote, the current version will likely be passed and sent to the Senate in a similarly bipartisan manner.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: anjci via wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(225)
  • burrkitty
    Voted Maybe
    01/09/2019
    ···

    GET THE GOVERNMENT OPEN WITHOUT A STUPID WALL. There are 800,000 American families who’s civil service personnel are missing their paychecks. Right now they matter more than Syria. When the government is open again, by all means, pass this bill, but not while a third of the government is closed.

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  • Brian
    Voted No
    01/08/2019
    ···

    We can't do anything until the government is fully open. The Senate needs to reopen the government first, then they can consider this bill.

    Like (34)
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  • Martha
    Voted Yes
    01/08/2019
    ···

    The proposed bills on Syria make sense, while Trump's ever changing policy (pull out now, to pull out in 90 days, to pull out in 120, etc) makes little to no sense. However, if his strategy is to confuse the enemy, as well as our allies he's doing an excellent job (I'm not even sure he knows what he wants to do and I'm positive he has no clue as to what needs to be done).

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  • Surender
    01/08/2019
    ···

    No tin pot dictator (erdogan) would have declined to meet a high level american rep (bolton) in the past. This is simple & ample proof that moron has zero credibility and america has lost its standing. What we have now is just another orange variety of a banana tin pot dictator in the white house worse yet with no fangs (substantive support) just hot air! Moron, his gang, gop, evangelicals, nationalists - mostly comprising the less informed & racist (overt & covert forms) have succeeded in putting America in reverse gear! The Kurds are a proud independent community benign and moderate - looking to live in peace and be productive. When oppressed anyone will defend their lot! Terrorists they are not. They fought valiantly alongside the Americans and now we callously (as typical) cast them to the wolves?

    Like (17)
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  • John
    Voted No
    01/08/2019
    ···

    No bills passed until the government is open!

    Like (23)
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  • Shawn
    Voted Maybe
    01/08/2019
    ···

    I do believe we need to apply pressure to the Assad regime in the ways mentioned in this bill, and I don’t mind that Congress votes on this during a shutdown (which should be tackled immediately and simultaneously), but I’m very much against punishing or limiting freedom of speech by not allowing people to boycott or protest against Israel’s actions against Palestinians as that would infringe on 1st Amendment rights of freedom of speech, not to mention that we should be able to criticize our allies if we believe they are acting against our moral, humanitarian, and geopolitical ideals.

    Like (21)
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  • Steven
    Voted Yes
    01/08/2019
    ···

    Everything possible needs to be done to remove this man from power.

    Like (11)
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  • Ken
    01/11/2019
    ···

    Can you imagine Putin telling Trump TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!

    Like (6)
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  • DrCindyBean
    Voted No
    01/08/2019
    ···

    First open the government. No wall. Then have rigorous fact based discussions about Assad Syria and related issues. Don’t do anything unless there is bipartisan support. Do not restrict first amendment rights. Do not restrict freedom of speech, freedom to gather in protest (peacefully). Those rights must be protected.

    Like (12)
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  • Jean
    Voted No
    01/08/2019
    ···

    No more bills passed until the government is open.

    Like (10)
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  • Mary
    Voted No
    01/09/2019
    ···

    First the government should reopen before any action is taken. Second Eliminate the provision to allow punishment of Americans for anti- Israeli action. This violates our free speech rights and, although I support Israel, is unacceptable.

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  • SneakyPete
    Voted Yes
    01/08/2019
    ···

    S.1 AKA the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act The Senate will vote to pass the Senate bill S. 1 AKA the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act ― which contains four measures that received bipartisan support in the last Congress. It includes the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which would take the following steps to bring the war in Syria to an end: * Impose new sanctions on persons or entities who provide the Assad regime with financing, aircraft or parts (and related financing), telecommunications services, or support the Syrian energy industry. * Encourage negotiations to end the crisis by suspending sanctions if parties to the conflict are engaged in meaningful negotations and violence against civilians has stopped. * Help investigations that will eventually lead to the conviction of war criminals by authorizing the State Dept. to support entities that are collecting and preserving evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria. The bill also contains bipartisan measures aimed at strengthening security alliances with Israel & Jordan and countering the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. With the bipartisan nature of the bill, Senate Democrats should not as to be expected expected, to block the bill in the procedural vote. This bipartisan bill would enact new sanctions on the Assad regime for its crimes against the Syrian people, strengthen the security alliances between the U.S. two of its closest allies in the Middle East in Israel and Jordan, while also giving state and local governments tools to counter the anti-Israel BDS movement. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻😈👍🏻😈👍🏻. 1*8*19......

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  • Marc
    Voted No
    01/08/2019
    ···

    I vote no because the government shutdown needs to be resolved before anything about this comes to the floor

    Like (8)
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  • ManfromNebraska
    Voted Yes
    01/10/2019
    ···

    The Democrats are showing their obstructing policies against this administration. We need to support this bill and pass it. We need to show full support for Israel and take sanctions against Syria. Contact I want to shaW we need to show full support for Israel and impose sanctions against Assad.

    Like (8)
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  • Rachel
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    No bills passed until there is a vote on the House Bill to reopen the government!

    Like (7)
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  • Joanne
    Voted Maybe
    01/08/2019
    ···

    Once again presidont Thinskin shot off his mouth without knowing the consequences. Ergodon says Isis is defeated and Trumpf runs with it. He's so easily manipulated by dictators. We are assisting the Kurds in Syria. We can't abandon them as we have in the past. While I think we shouldn't be there in the first place, we must finish what we started.

    Like (7)
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  • Tinee
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    In 2004 Donald Trump don't let a wall stop you. 2018 Donald Trump shutdown the government stop paying government workers until American taxpayers pay for the wall I promised Mexico would pay for. This shutdown happened while the GOP was in charge of the House, Senate & White House. Reopen the government yes. No funding for the wall.

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  • Catherine
    Voted Yes
    01/08/2019
    ···

    But they should put experienced Military Officers in charge and take control away from Trump. Maybe it's time that the Senate and the house actually declare war which is their purview not the presidents and they control the war. Not our inept uneducated draft Dodger president. He apparently knows how to play golf but I doubt that he knows anything about actual War where our military forces and civilians will die.

    Like (7)
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  • Dawn
    Voted No
    01/11/2019
    ···

    GET THE GOVERNMENT OPEN WITHOUT A STUPID WALL. There are 800,000 American families who’s civil service personnel are missing their paychecks. Right now they matter more than Syria. When the government is open again, by all means, pass this bill, but not while a third of the government is closed.

    Like (6)
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  • KansasTamale
    Voted No
    last Tuesday
    ···

    Makes MORE SENSE than shutting down the government over a wall that will destroy the environment, people who live there don’t want, the drug cartel will only tunnel under !!!

    Like (6)
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