New, Democratic-majority Senate stalls anti-BDS bill

Over the weekend, the two Democratic senators from Maryland - Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen - who represent thousands of furloughed federal government workers, first publicly raised the idea of blocking bills on the floor to raise the political stakes on President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is refusing to put any government funding bills on the floor unless Trump supports them. It includes measures supporting Israel and Jordan and slapping sanctions on Syrians involved in war crimes.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn expressed his annoyance at Democrats having blocked so numerous Cabinet nominees in the last Congress and noted that the ones not confirmed last cycle have to be re-appointed.

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

Legislation reaffirming U.S. 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.

"The Senate should vote on nothing else until we vote to reopen the government".

Smith also questioned Trump's pronouncement the USA should cut its military losses and withdraw from Syria - which Trump reversed after a GOP backlash and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in protest.

"We're not going to touch it", said a House congressional aide, noting that it would inject a politically divisive issue into the chamber at a time when Democrats are trying to show a united front in the face of the government shutdown.

A public lands bill that was held over from the last Congress is expected to get a vote next week, for example ― and it has support from a number of Western Democratic senators.

Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American congresswoman, is accused of anti-Semitism for questioning Republican lawmakers' loyalty to Israel over the US. This is the USA where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality. "Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away". The bill comes amid the partial government shutdown, and Democrats say they will block it until government is reopened.

But Rubio's office says the bill allows the governments "to counter economic warfare against Israel".

Rubio posted several tweets about the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel on Monday morning, including one that said Democrats on Capitol Hill are part of it.

Zach Gibson via Getty Images Democrats are pressuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring up bills to reopen the government.

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

They are also supported by key liberal outside groups, including the Center for American Progress, Indivisible and the AFL-CIO, although this strategy hasn't been backed caucus-wide.

The ACLU disagreed, calling on Rubio to "reconsider" the bill, which it said "makes a mockery of the First Amendment". One of those bills would provide ample margin for state and local governments to curtail their business with those who actively support boycotts of Israel.

Prior to the vote, McConnell described Democrats' opposition to his motion as a "partisan tantrum".

The US Senate voted 56 to 44, falling short of the 60 votes needed to advance the "Strengthening America's Security in the Middle East Act".

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