January 8, 2019 - Issue: Vol. 165, No. 3 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 1st Session
THE MIDDLE EAST; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 3
(Senate - January 08, 2019)
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[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 crisis. 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 deserve. 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. ____________________