WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement on the Senate vote on a motion to proceed to S.1, the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019. 

“Today, the Senate will vote on a motion to proceed to S.1, the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, legislation that combines four different provisions on U.S. policy in the Middle East, a region where President Trump’s unclear strategy has led to instability and confusion among our allies. This bill will authorize security assistance for Israel, sanction those responsible for human rights abuses in Syria, expand our defense cooperation with Jordan, and help states push back against efforts to isolate Israel. I will support the legislative package. 

“At a time when Israel faces threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other extremist groups, it’s in America’s best interest to ensure that our most important regional ally remains secure. This bill includes legislation I co-authored to authorize $33 billion in security assistance for Israel over the next ten years to make sure its military is able to deter threats from the region.                                                             

“This bill also includes a title known in the last Congress as the Combatting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Act. I co-sponsored this bill to increase protections for state and local governments in the United States that decide to divest from, prohibit investment in, and restrict contracting with companies knowingly engaged in commerce-related or investment-related BDS activity targeting Israel. 

“I acknowledge and appreciate the wide array of opinions on this legislative package among Delawareans and advocacy groups focused on BDS. But I also recognize that, too often, Israel’s opponents use the BDS movement to delegitimize Israel. I oppose the BDS movement, and I believe it is critical that the United States support the economic stability and political independence of Israel. To that end, I support this bill because it prevents efforts to stifle legitimate business activity between American and Israeli companies.”