Dems block Senate bill on Israel boycotts, citing shutdown

Marco Rubio puts on his jacket

"The shutdown is not the reason Senate Democrats don't want to move to the Middle East Security Bill", Rubio tweeted.

For now, the package has stalled on a vote of 56-44, not enough to clear the 60-vote hurdle needed to advance. Ben Cardin's office emailed Cardin's official comment: "We should not stand idle when foreign countries or worldwide governmental organizations use BDS tactics to isolate one of our key allies and bypass direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians".

The legislation, referred to as S1 as it was the first bill introduced by the new 2019 Senate, deals with a number of foreign policy issues including sanctioning the Syrian regime and extending military assistance to Israel.

The anti-BDS legislation has been fiercely criticized by civil rights organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union as well as by progressives and liberals across the country.

Senator Rubio, however, slammed Democrats for blaming the bill's blockage on the shutdown.

"#BDS isn't about freedom & equality", he tweeted. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin of Maryland, argued over the weekend that senators should vote first on a measure approved by the House last week to reopen the government.

In mind, specifically, are those entities that support the BDS movement - short for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions - a movement that advocates an global boycott of Israel until the sovereign nation acquiesces to pro-Palestine, anti-Israel policies.

McConnell also said Tuesday that he would not bring up a pair of funding bills passed by the Democratic House of Representatives last week because President Trump will not sign them. "Maybe a refresher on our US Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away", she tweeted.

Manchin described the bill as a rebuke to anti-Semitism in the BDS movement.

Consider that one year ago, Pew Research polled Americans' attitudes toward Israel and the Palestinians.

"It's so urgent that we take steps to reopen parts of the government that directly affect working families, and that's why we're doing it bill by bill", House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said in an interview Monday. It protects the right of local & state govts that decide to no longer do business with those who boycott #Israel.

Opponents say Rubio's measure infringes on free speech.

Eight Republicans joined a Democratic majority Wednesday night to approve a vote on the Financial Services & General Government spending bill by a tally of 240-188.

As many as half a dozen GOP senators have said the government should reopen while border security negotiations with Democrats continue.

Legislation reaffirming US support for allies in the Middle East, including a measure to punish Americans who boycott Israel, fell victim on Tuesday to a domestic political dispute that has resulted in a partial federal government shutdown.

Now, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate is attempting to do something much larger than mere block-to-block fighting-the very first bill of the new session, loaded with symbolic significance and sponsored by Marco Rubio (and supported by many Democrats), has nothing to do with improving the lives of ordinary Americans.

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