[Page S35]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                            THE MIDDLE EAST

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, for years America's vital interests in 
the Middle East have been jeopardized by regional chaos. The security 
of our ally Israel continues to be challenged by the long reach of the 
Iranian regime and its affiliates. In Syria, the Assad regime has made 
its own nation a graveyard for hundreds of thousands of innocent 
civilians, and the resulting chaos continues to provide Iran and Russia 
opportunities to expand their malign influence throughout the region. 
That is why the Senate is going to vote later today to take up pressing 
legislation that tackles all of this head on.
  The bill at hand would reaffirm the United States' commitment to 
Israel's security and authorize military assistance, cooperative 
missile defense, and loan guarantees. It would counter an aggressive 
and hostile attempt to delegitimize the State of Israel through 
economic boycotts. It would also reauthorize efforts to strengthen 
defense cooperation with our ally Jordan, as its people and government 
grapple with the security and humanitarian ramifications of the Syrian 
  Importantly, the legislation also includes the Caesar Syria Civilian 
Protection Act. This provision would hold accountable individuals 
responsible for the senseless evils of the Assad regime and impose 
severe penalties on the entities that support them.
  We will vote later today on whether or not Members of this body 
believe these issues should be addressed. It is my sincere hope that 
the Senate will approve these bipartisan proposals and send the strong 
message of support that our friends and partners in the Middle East 
  During the last Congress there was broad agreement on both sides of 
the aisle on the need for action. I expected today's action to be a big 
bipartisan vote, not some partisan showdown, but over the last few days 
something seems to have happened. The Democratic leader and several of 
his colleagues have stood up and said they want to block the Senate 
from even considering this legislation--never mind that it includes 
legislation cosponsored by the Senate Democrats last Congress and never 
mind that Senate Democrats mentioned the Syria crisis literally dozens 
of times last month here on the Senate floor.