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senate Bill S. 1

New Sanctions on Assad, Strengthening U.S. Alliances With Israel & Jordan, and Combating the BDS Movement

Argument in favor

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's Opinion
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01/08/2019
“ASSAD SYRIAN SANCTIONS” I’m in strong support of and recommend the passage of the Senate bipartisan bill S.1 which would enact new sanctions on the Assad regime for its crimes against the Syrian people and 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. This Senate bill S.1 AKA the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act — will also also aim to the improving of U.S. defense and security policies in the Middle East. It’d authorize security assistance to Israel over a 10-year period based on a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, reauthorize defense cooperation between the U.S. and Jordan, provide new authorities for sanctions against the Assad regime in Syria, and give state and local governments tools to counter the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. HOWEVER, They’d squander billions, funneling taxpayer funds through their, “TAX & SPEND” programs SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👏🏻👍🏻👏🏻👍🏻. 2*5*19...
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Riley's Opinion
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01/08/2019
Always support Israel over Palestine. I can't believe this is controversial.
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James's Opinion
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01/07/2019
Assad needs to go! Obama and Bush went after the wrong men in power! As evident! Assad is closely aligned with Iran and that is the true Islamic enemy! We need to both protect Christians as well as Kurds! As Christians and Jews we are bound by holy scripture to protect those in Lebanon, Syria and Asia Minor that traditionally over millennia protected Jews and Christians! Kurds and Abbisinans! The Turks killed millions over centuries in the name of a false prophet and a false god! We have a responsibility to protect our own! And unto Israel! Those that defy the law of the true God will meet a horrible death! Think about it!
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Argument opposed

While the four aspects of U.S. policy in the Middle East addressed by this bill may have bipartisan support, they should be considered as individual bills rather than combined into one piece of legislation.

Gale's Opinion
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01/06/2019
I oppose this bill because it includes an attack on free speech. A boycott is a form of free speech and protected protest. This law attempts to prohibit protest by applying financial penalties to those who disagree with the government. It is therefore unconstitutional and sets an unacceptable precedent. Set aside how you feel about Israel, and you will realize that if they can legislate against the right to boycott Israel, they can legislate against the right to boycott anything. I, for one, am not prepared to give up my rights for anyone or any purpose. Separate the clauses of this bill and we can evaluate each section on its own merits.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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01/07/2019
This bill violates the first amendment. I cannot support a unconstitutional bill. I am Jewish myself. Disagreeing with the government of Israel isn’t anti-Semitism just because they are Jews. That’s a stupid conclusion to jump to. Governments can be (and frequently are) wrong.
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Robert's Opinion
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01/06/2019
Take out the BDS language. Boycotts are free speech. If the people of this country want to protest Israel’s government and the human rights abuses they are guilty of that is their constitutional right. This BDS Bill sets a dangerous precedent. What’s next? We’re not allowed to boycott goods made in sweatshops over seas? No. Squash this embarrassing thing.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate Passed February 5th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 77 Yea / 23 Nay
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2019

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What is Senate Bill S. 1?

This bill — the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act — would aim to improve U.S. defense and security policies in the Middle East. It’d authorize security assistance to Israel over a 10-year period based on a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, reauthorize defense cooperation between the U.S. and Jordan, provide new authorities for sanctions against the Assad regime in Syria, and give state and local governments tools to counter the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. A breakdown of its various provisions can be found below.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act

This section of the bill would codify the 2016 memorandum of understanding signed by Israel and the U.S. guaranteeing Israel $38 billion in defense assistance over 10 years. It’d also commit the U.S. to support Israel’s ability to meet and address both conventional and emerging threats and enhances U.S.-Israel cooperation in areas of mutual interest, such as cyber-security.

Other major provisions of this section would:

  • Authorize U.S. security assistance for Israel, as called for in the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance, through 2028 at an amount of at least $3.3 billion;

  • Extend authorization for loan guarantees to Israel through 2023;

  • Extend authorization for the U.S. War Reserve Stockpile in Israel through 2023;

  • Authorize the president to transfer precision-guided munitions to Israel for its defense;

  • Direct the president to take steps to add Israel to the list of countries eligible for the Strategic Trade Authorization Exception from the Export Administration Regulations;

  • Direct the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator to work with the Israel Space Agency to identify and cooperatively pursue peaceful space exploration and science initiatives in areas of mutual interest;

  • Direct the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to partner with Israel to advance common goals across a variety of sectors, including energy, agriculture and food security, democracy, human rights and governance, economic growth and trade, education, environment, global health, and water and sanitation, and authorizes the USAD Administrator to enter memoranda of understanding with Israel for this coordination;

  • Authorize the president to enter a cooperative project agreement with Israel to research, develop, test, evaluate, jointly product, and support defense articles and defense services to destroy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that threaten either the U.S. or Israel; and

  • Affirm America’s commitment to ensuring that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge, which means maintaining Israel’s ability to counter and defeat any credible threat from any individual state, coalition of states, or non-state actors while sustaining minimal damages and casualties via the use of superior military means.

This section of the bill is named after former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who retired at the end of the 115th Congress.

U.S.-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act

This section of the bill would extend the country of Jordan’s eligibility for streamlined defense sales until December 31, 2022 that was first granted by the U.S.-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015.

It would also express the sense of Congress that the U.S. and Jordan should negotiate a new Memorandum of Understanding through FY2022 to enhance Jordan’s military capacity and local economy.

The president would be authorized to establish and operate an enterprise fund to provide the assistance, which would terminate upon liquidation or December 31, 2022 — whichever comes first.

Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act

This section of the bill would impose new sanctions on supporters of the Assad regime in Syria, encourage negotiations to end the crisis, and begin investigations that will eventually lead to the prosecution of war criminals. It’d impose new sanctions on anyone who:

  • Does business with or provides financing to the Syrian government, its intelligence or security services, or the Central Bank of Syria;

  • Provides aircraft or spare parts (or financing for either) to Syria’s airlines;

  • Does business with transportation or telecommunications businesses controlled by the Syrian government;

  • Supports Syria’s energy industry.

The president would be able to waive sanctions on a case-by-case basis. Sanctions could also be suspended if the parties to the conflict engage in meaningful negotiations and the violence against civilians has ceased. The suspension would be renewable if it is critical to the continuation of negotiations and attacks against civilians have ceased.

The Secretary of State would be authorized to support entities that are collecting and preserving evidence for the eventual prosecution of those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria. The president would be required to give Congress a report with the names of those who are responsible for or are complicit with violating the human rights of the Syrian people.

The bill would also require the president to submit a report on the potential effectiveness, risks, and operational requirements of establishing and maintaining a no-fly zone or safe zone over part or all of Syria.

Combating BDS Act

This section of the bill would allow a state or local government to adopt and enforce measures to divest its assets from, prohibit investment of its assets in, or restrict contracting with:

  • An entity engaged in a commerce- or investment-related boycott, divestment, or sanctions (BDS) activity targeting Israel; or

  • An entity that owns or controls, or is owned or controlled by, or is under common ownership with such an entity.

Such state or local measures wouldn’t be preempted by federal law. States and local governments that try to adopt or enforce such measures would have to comply with requirements for notice, timing, and opportunity for comment.

Further, this section of the bill would amend the Investment Company Act to prohibit a person from bringing a civil, criminal, or administrative action against a registered investment company based solely upon that company’s divestment from securities issued by a person engaged in a commerce- or investment-related BDS activity targeting Israel.

Amendments

This bill would express the sense of Congress that: 

  • The U.S. and its partners have played a positive role in Syria and Afghanistan by fighting terrorist groups, countering Iranian aggression, deterring further use of chemical weapons, and protecting human rights;
  • A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from the ongoing fight without effective countervailing efforts to secure gains could allow terrorists to regroup and destabilize these regions and create a vacuum which could be filled by Russia or Iran;
  • Diplomatic negotiations to secure peace and reconciliation in Syria and Afghanistan are gaining traction but are fragile;
  • The Trump administration should “pursue a strategy that sets the conditions for the long-term defeat of al Qaeda and ISIS, as well as the protection of regional partners and allies, while ensuring that Iran cannot dominate the region or threaten Israel;”
  • The administration should certify those conditions for the enduring defeat of al Qaeda and ISIS are met before any significant U.S. withdrawal; and
  • That nothing in this bill could be construed as authorizing the use of military force under the War Powers Resolution.

Impact

Syrian civilians; the Assad regime; U.S. persons or entities involved in the BDS movement; state and local governments; the governments of Israel & Jordan; relevant federal agencies; Congress; and the president.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced this bill to improve U.S. secrurity partnerships with allies like Israel and Jordan, step up sanctions on the Assad regime, and counter the anti-Israel BDS movement:

“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. 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.”

Original cosponsor Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) added:

“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. This bill greatly enhances our national security and I urge its quick and bipartisan passage into law.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) expressed opposition to this bill, tweeting:

"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. Democrats must block consideration of any bills that don't reopen the government. Let's get our priorities right."

Rubio then took to Twitter to rebut Sanders' claim:

"This is a lie. My bill doesn't punish any political activity. It protects the right of local & state govts that decide to no longer do business with those who boycott Israel. So boycotting #Israel is a constitutional right, but boycotting those participating in #BDS isn't?"

This legislation contains four bills that nearly became law with bipartisan support during the previous Congress:

  • Differing versions of the United States-Israel Security Authorization Assistance Act passed the House and Senate on voice votes, and it's sponsored by Sens. Rubio and Chris Coons (D-DE).

  • The United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act passed the House on a voice vote and was advanced out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the last Congress when it was sponsored by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL).

  • Similarly, the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act passed the House on a voice vote and was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It was sponsored by the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the 115th Congress: Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY).

  • And the Senate Banking Committee hotlined (ie both parties informally approved) the Combating BDS Act, sponsored by Sens. Rubio and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

This bill has the support of three cosponsors, including Gardner and Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Roy Blunt (R-MO).


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Juanmonino)

AKA

Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to make improvements to certain defense and security assistance provisions and to authorize the appropriation of funds to Israel, to reauthorize the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, and to halt the wholesale slaughter of the Syrian people, and for other purposes.

    “ASSAD SYRIAN SANCTIONS” I’m in strong support of and recommend the passage of the Senate bipartisan bill S.1 which would enact new sanctions on the Assad regime for its crimes against the Syrian people and 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. This Senate bill S.1 AKA the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act — will also also aim to the improving of U.S. defense and security policies in the Middle East. It’d authorize security assistance to Israel over a 10-year period based on a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, reauthorize defense cooperation between the U.S. and Jordan, provide new authorities for sanctions against the Assad regime in Syria, and give state and local governments tools to counter the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. HOWEVER, They’d squander billions, funneling taxpayer funds through their, “TAX & SPEND” programs SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👏🏻👍🏻👏🏻👍🏻. 2*5*19...
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    I oppose this bill because it includes an attack on free speech. A boycott is a form of free speech and protected protest. This law attempts to prohibit protest by applying financial penalties to those who disagree with the government. It is therefore unconstitutional and sets an unacceptable precedent. Set aside how you feel about Israel, and you will realize that if they can legislate against the right to boycott Israel, they can legislate against the right to boycott anything. I, for one, am not prepared to give up my rights for anyone or any purpose. Separate the clauses of this bill and we can evaluate each section on its own merits.
    Like (262)
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    This bill violates the first amendment. I cannot support a unconstitutional bill. I am Jewish myself. Disagreeing with the government of Israel isn’t anti-Semitism just because they are Jews. That’s a stupid conclusion to jump to. Governments can be (and frequently are) wrong.
    Like (203)
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    Take out the BDS language. Boycotts are free speech. If the people of this country want to protest Israel’s government and the human rights abuses they are guilty of that is their constitutional right. This BDS Bill sets a dangerous precedent. What’s next? We’re not allowed to boycott goods made in sweatshops over seas? No. Squash this embarrassing thing.
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    I’m good with sanctions against Assad, I think our support for Israel should be maintained (maybe) but definitely not strengthened, but the anti-BDS measure gets a big nay from me. I’m not interested in my government telling me which nations to support. I’ve never understood this country’s obsession with Israel, and many in my generation are in the same camp. We’re fully capable of separating religion from government. We can tolerate all religions while recognizing that some governments abuse their power and connections to inflict serious harm on others.
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    We should not continue to give military support to Israel, a country that is currently administering an apartheid state against the Palestinians. Also, the anti-BDS section of this bill is a blatant attack on the first amendment. Boycotts are a legitimate form of protest and the U.S. government should not be actively undermining that right.
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    Section of the bill would amend the Investment Company Act to prohibit a person from bringing a civil, criminal, or administrative action against a registered investment company. This Infringes on first amendment and most likely others. Your civil rights are being attack by Marco Rubio (R-Florida). We give Israel billions of dollars a year in aid, this is BS!
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    Always support Israel over Palestine. I can't believe this is controversial.
    Like (28)
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    Assad needs to go! Obama and Bush went after the wrong men in power! As evident! Assad is closely aligned with Iran and that is the true Islamic enemy! We need to both protect Christians as well as Kurds! As Christians and Jews we are bound by holy scripture to protect those in Lebanon, Syria and Asia Minor that traditionally over millennia protected Jews and Christians! Kurds and Abbisinans! The Turks killed millions over centuries in the name of a false prophet and a false god! We have a responsibility to protect our own! And unto Israel! Those that defy the law of the true God will meet a horrible death! Think about it!
    Like (26)
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    This bill is another piece of legislation with too much packed into it—good, bad, and indifferent. Just as I don’t support my friends in bullying others, I don’t support our ally, Israel, in perpetrating genocide on Palestinians. Throwing in the removal of civil liberties is another sneaky assault on our republic. Americans have a right to boycott. Freedom of speech is not just for pro-Republican and pro-Conservative speech. Beware giving up civil rights and beware gradual destruction of our freedoms. Germany and Italy went down that path resulting in Hitler and Mussolini. Break this bill up into its components.
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    While there are positive aspects to this bill suppression of free speech negates any other potential value this bill could provide.
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    Also why should we counter the BDS movement? Free speech and free boycotts if we want, this is AMERICA! Why single out Israel? Their president is corrupt (just like ours) and they keep stealing land from the Palestinians. They took the land, let them duke it out themselves. Until they give the P. a homeland, and stop killing them, then I may think differently, but for now I think they are one of the biggest problems in the middle east. They are arrogant and brazen and I have no sympathy for them.
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    I agree fully with most of this legislation EXCEPT the bit about not being able to boycott Israel. No-one should be able to tell who and what we can boycott!! This is not for our Government to decide. It’s up to consumers to make that decision!
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    # 1 This bill gives WAY TOO MUCH POWER TO TRUMP & HIS BUNCH TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT WITH MONEY, MUNITIONS, etc. #2. There are 4 parts to this policy in the Middle East which should be proposed as individual bills rather than combined into one piece of legislation. # 3. This bill takes away the right to Speak & boycott or do things against this bill which is against the freedom of speech. NOT AMERICAN OR DEMOCRATIC. #4 Israel has been a friend & Ally of the US since 1940s, but recently with Netanyahu as the leader it has become much LESS WHAT ISREAL WAS SUPPOSED TO BE. LETTING THEM HAVE MORE ARMS & WEAPONS & MONEY IS NOT A GOOD IDEA BECAUSE ISREAL Has turned its back on working with the Palestinians and has become like Supremacists- probably against the majority of the Israeli people, just like here in the Us where the Supremacists are in charge while 70% of the US citizens ARE AGAINST THE WAY THIS COUNTRY IS GOING.
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    US Government has no right to infringe on our freedom of speech and demand allegiance to a foreign country
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    Not our fight. Our borders are way back on this side of the world. Stop picking fights at my expense.
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    !! Vote no. Looking for no partisan legislation. Where is it? Only GOP on this bill? Shame on you. Work to bring bi partisan bills. There are problems with this bill. Take out BDS stuff from this bill. Why would you restrict first amendment right? There may be parts of this bill that are unconstitutional. BDS stuff must be removed from this bill.
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    These are separate ideas and should not be thrown together. BDS is a non-violent protest against the oppression of Palestinians by Zionist Israel. Marco Rubio is trying to win he favor of Christian Zionists who believe they can make Jesus return by fomenting Armageddon.
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    I oppose this act because I feel that the anti-BDS section is an unconstitutional attack on the freedom of speech and a unwarranted restriction on the right to enter into contracts. I am troubled by the equating of BDS movement with anti-semitism. One can oppose the policies of the Israeli government (as many Israeli citizens do) without being anti-semitic.
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    Israel has perpetuated acts of genocide on the Palestinian people and should not be validated. Netanyahu has already been indicted as corrupt and should not receive our aid. The first thing our Senate should be worrying about is reopening our government. End of discussion.
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