- The Washington Times
Thursday, January 10, 2019

Democrats successfully filibustered, for the second time, a bill Thursday that would have strengthened U.S. relationships in the Middle East while punishing the anti-Israel boycott movement.

The lawmakers are demanding their Republican colleagues first vote to reopen the government before proceeding to any other business, saying furloughed government workers should come before foreign policy.

But some Republicans said the vote smacked of anti-Semitism.

“This week Senate Dems voted against supporting Israel and sanctioning Syria because of the unrelated shutdown and their own party’s rising anti-Semitism. Neither reason is acceptable,” tweeted Sen. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Republican.

The vote left Republicans seven shy of the 60 vote threshold needed to proceed with the legislation. They also fell short earlier this week when the bill first came up for a vote on Tuesday.

Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland Democrat, along with some of his colleagues, had demanded Majority Leader Mitch McConnell first take up a series of bills that would fund some of the government agencies that were previously agreed upon by both parties prior to the president’s shutdown over his border wall.

But Mr. McConnell plowed ahead, saying Democrats are trying to also shutdown the Senate.

“We could assume the Democrats will try to get votes on other matters during the government shutdown — just not the Israel issue,” Mr. McConnell said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said it’s up to Mr. McConnell to get the ball rolling.

“The Democratic position is very simple: let’s separate our disagreements over border security from the government shutdown. Reopen all the government agencies unrelated to border security and let’s continue to work to resolve our differences,” the New York Democrat said.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, firmed up military cooperation with Jordan, provide humanitarian assistance to allies in the Middle East struggling with the fallout of the Syrian civil war, and authorized billions of dollars in security assistance and transfer of precision weapons to Israel.

But the most controversial part is a section authorizing state and local governments to refuse to do business with companies that boycott Israel or Israeli-linked corporations to protest the country’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

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