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VIDEO: Blunt Urges Colleagues to Support Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act

January 30, 2019

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to support the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019. The Blunt-backed bill would make the world more stable and secure by providing additional support to our allies, Israel and Jordan. It would also impose sanctions on anyone doing business with the government of Syria.

Following Are Excerpts From Blunt’s Remarks:

“Mr. President, the Senate’s currently debating the Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act. These are issues that we need to deal with, it’s really an important time to be talking about these issues. Really, there are four different things that this bill does and the first thing this bill does is go further in providing security help for Israel. … We understand that Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East, that Israel is a great source of intelligence for us as we try to work our way through problems in the Middle East, and that we rely on Israel for the partnership we have there. The things that Israel has done to study and test, and unfortunately get to test in real situations, military defense systems that will intercept things that are coming at us, the whole concept of a bullet that can hit a bullet that some people thought was such a far-fetched idea when President Reagan talked about it in the 1980's. Israel's proved you could do it with our help in some of the technology. It's a partnership, they unfortunately are in a place where they actually use it to really intercept things that are coming at their citizens, and we found out it works. Security for Israel is security for the United States. 2016, the United States and Israel signed a ten-year agreement on security assistance. This bill makes sure that that…agreement will continue to have the full force of law. This legislation makes sure that we're giving some concrete aid to help Israel protect itself and to protect its own security. It also states very clearly that the policy of the United States is to ensure that Israel can counter and defeat threats when it's facing its enemies. …

“The second part of the bill extends our cooperation between us and Jordan. We have no more faithful partner outside of Israel than Jordan and Jordan, frankly, that Israeli-Jordan border, critically important in how it works. We saw what happened as Syrians looked for a safe place to go. They went to Israel - they went to Jordan, rather, and we've done our best to try to ensure that Jordan can meet its humanitarian crisis based on what's happened in Syria. But the economic stability of the region, the economic stability of Jordan, believe me, is critical to the economic stability of the region and so this bill also comes up with new ways to assist our allies when they face these unanticipated situations, and some of these situations last for a long time once they start.

“The third part of the legislation imposes sanctions on anyone doing business with the government of Syria. The tragedy of Syria, the tragedy of the Syrian people, the chemical warfare of Bashar Assad, the barrel bombs dropped in neighborhoods where innocent people, where children, where senior citizens live, where people are trying to work every day, makes it clear that this is not a country that we should support. This portion of the legislation actually already passed the House by voice vote. We need to join them with their commitment to continue to put pressure on Syria, for Syria to meet the standards that civilization should require of those we deal with. …

“The fourth part of the package we're talking about is another thing that we can do in our support for Israel. There is a group of people who are seeking to target Israel through a series of boycotts and disinvestments and sanctions. These are not usually government, they're individuals and institutions trying to harm Israel by boycotting any kind of business there. This anti-Israel activity is shameful, those who promote it should be penalized. If they want to find out what it's like to not be able to trade, we should show them what it's like not to be able to trade. There are 26 states that have already passed legislation that allows them to deal in different ways with people who have either disinvested or boycotted Israel. This bill provides some further definition of how they can move forward. Boycotting Israel is unacceptable. That's an important part of this package.

“All of these things need to be done. And this is an important time to send that message around the world, that not only our allies in the world can count on us, but our enemies in the world, our adversaries, can also expect us to do what we should do to support our allies, to defend freedom, to look forward, as one amendment that's been offered will do that I've cosponsored to meet our commitments to NATO, to understand the continued dangerous nature of terrorist threats, to be thoughtful as we make decisions that move us further away from the safe havens that those threats have used in the past.”   

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