A proposal from South Florida congressional representatives to help Jordan battle terrorism gained momentum on Capitol Hill this week.
Back in May, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the chairwoman of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, teamed up with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, to bring out the “United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act.”
The South Florida representatives have a number of key allies in pushing this proposal which extends the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act which Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch brought out in 2015. Besides Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch, other sponsors include U.S. Rep Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the House State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee chairman; and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-NY, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
The 2015 bill, which was sponsored by U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ben Cardin, D-Mary., in the upper chamber, made Jordan eligible under the Arms Export Control Act and increased military cooperation between the U.S. and that Middle Eastern nation. When the bill passed in February 2016, Rubio and other advocates said it would help Jordan deal with the Syrian refugee crisis and battle Islamic State (ISIS) terrorism.
On Thursday, Ros-Lehtinen’s bill moved through the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which she used to chair, and is now headed to the House floor.
Ros-Lehtinen weighed in on why the bill was needed.
“On the front lines in the fight against terror and other regional crises, Jordan is one of our closest and most important partners in the Middle East,” she said on Thursday. "A key contributor to the anti-ISIS coalition, Jordan has also taken in over one million refugees from Syria and other neighboring countries, putting a significant strain on the kingdom’s economy, public services, infrastructure, and social cohesion. At a time when the U.S. needs Jordan’s support and influence in the Middle East more than ever, my bill aims to shore up our ally’s military capacity to ensure a stable and secure Jordan that is capable of advancing our mutual priorities and interests.”