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Senate Passes Marco Rubio's Bill Supporting Israel

August 4, 2018 - 6:00am
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Rubio and Ted Deutch
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Rubio and Ted Deutch

This week, the U.S. Senate passed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., proposal to support Israel. 

Rubio, who sits on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U.S. Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., teamed up to bring out the “United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act” which continues the funding levels established in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two nations back in 2016. The proposal continues those levels for an additional five years, extending them to FY2019-23 at a cost of $3.3 billion a year. 

The Senate passed the bill on voice vote on Thursday as Rubio reeled in a majority of the Senate with 72 cosponsors. 

Rubio weighed in on the legislation after the vote. 

“At a time when the Jewish state of Israel faces unpresented threats from Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime, Assad’s barbaric dictatorship in Syria, and terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, this bipartisan legislation advances American efforts to ensure that Israel, a vibrant democracy and our closest ally in the Middle East, has all that it needs to defend itself,” Rubio said. “I thank my colleagues in the Senate for their support of the Rubio-Coons bill, and hope that the House of Representatives soon passes the legislation and sends it to the White House for the president’s signature.”

“The passage of this bipartisan legislation represents the continuation of America’s unshakable, seven-decade commitment to Israel’s security,” Coons said. “The security assistance included in this bill will help Israel protect itself in the midst of regional instability; deter – and if necessary defend against – Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas; and deepen bilateral ties for the next decade and beyond.”

Over in the U.S. House, the bill is being sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the chairwoman of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the ranking Democrat on that subcommittee, as the main cosponsor. Back in May, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the legislation without opposition and it’s now before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Research and Technology. Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch have rounded up more than 275 sponsors in the House. 

“Iran’s brazen antagonism and aggression toward Israel have taken an alarming turn for the worse,” Ros-Lehtinen said back in May when the Foreign Affairs Committee backed the bill. “This rogue regime is attempting to encircle the democratic Jewish state and provoke a direct confrontation. Iranian groups have joined Hezbollah, the regime’s proxy and U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and are amassing on Israel’s borders. This represents a very real and dangerous threat to our close friend and ally, and that is precisely why Ted and I authored the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act – to ensure that Israel will always have what it needs to secure and defend itself and its citizens from all threats. Our bill provides Israel with at least some peace of mind, knowing that the United States will continue to stand beside the Jewish state and that we will continue to seek ways to strengthen our bilateral relationship. I thank my colleagues for supporting this important bill and it is my hope the Senate can take action on this measure so we can get it to the president’s desk as soon as possible.”

“The US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act codifies the 2016 US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding that provides historic security assistance to our ally. It also expands cooperation on cyber, space, and joint development assistance projects,” Deutch said in May. “In light of Hezbollah gains in Lebanon, escalating Iranian threats in Syria, violent attempts by Hamas to breach Israel’s border from Gaza -- this bill will help ensure Israel has the ability to defend itself against these growing threats.”

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