Marco Rubio Starts New Congress Focused on the Middle East

Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnellMarco Rubio and Mitch McConnell


With the new Congress in session, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is joining other Senate Republicans focusing on the Middle East.

Rubio paired up with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Col., and James Risch, R-Idaho, to unveil the “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act” on Thursday.

“This legislation would make improvements to defense and security assistance provisions in the Middle East, bolster the U.S.-Israel strategic alliance by authorizing security assistance to Israel over a 10-year period pursuant to the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, reauthorize the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, provide new authorities for sanctions against Syria’s Assad regime and its supporters, and empower state and local governments in the United States to counter the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement’s discriminatory economic warfare against the Jewish state,” Rubio’s office noted.

Rubio, who sits on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, has been critical of recent developments from the Trump administration when it comes to Middle East policy, including the president’s call to withdraw American forces from Syria.

“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,” Rubio said. “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. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to quickly pass and enact this critical piece of legislation.”

“This package of legislation is an important step toward finishing the work of the last Congress. Israel and Jordan have been steadfast allies of the United States that deserve this support,” Risch said. “Also, it is vital to confront Syrian government atrocities and end discrimination against Israel.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee reviewed these bills last Congress and they had near unanimous support. It is time to move them forward.”

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

The SASME should pass without much drama as it consists of several bills which came close to passing the last Congress.