The Senate failed to reach the necessary 60 votes on Tuesday evening to end debate on Republican-introduced legislation that, if enacted, would impose fresh sanctions on Syria, as well as boost security cooperation with Israel and Jordan amid the announced gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. It is also aimed at tackling the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The final tally was 56-44.
At least three Democrats voted for cloture: Arizona’s Krysten Sinema, Alabama’s Doug Jones and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.
Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) expressed opposition to the bill due to the partial government shutdown that has lasted 17 days as U.S. President Donald Trump has refused to sign a spending bill that does not include funding for a border wall with Mexico.
“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,” Sanders said in reference to the anti-BDS measure. “Democrats must block consideration of any bills that don’t reopen the government. Let’s get our priorities right.”
The measure also would reauthorize the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015 to help the Hashemite Kingdom respond to the Syrian refugee crisis, fight the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, and protect its borders with Iraq and Syria.
Finally, the bill would enable state and local governments in the United States to fight the anti-Israel BDS movement.
CUFI expressed disappointment with the vote.
“While we do not agree with the decision to vote against cloture on this bill because of the partial government shutdown, we take those who did at their word and look forward to their supporting the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act when it comes up again for a vote once the government is fully funded. Anything less would constitute opposing important legislation they previously supported,” said the organization’s Action Fund chairwoman Sandra Parker.