Senate approves Syria, anti-BDS bill
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The Senate passed legislation on Thursday breaking with President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE’s Syria policy. 

Senators voted 77-23 to send the legislation to the House that includes a provision warning Trump against a “precipitous” withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

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It also asks the administration to certify that certain conditions have been met "for the enduring defeat of al Qaeda and ISIS before initiating any significant withdrawal of United States forces from Syria or Afghanistan."

The bill was approved after it overcame a filibuster earlier this week. 

 

“I keep reading where the national media writes that the United States Senate rebuked — they used the word 'rebuked' — President Trump. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Risch, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said. 

In addition to the Syria amendment, the bill also included sanctions against the Syrian government, increased support for Israel and Jordan and a provision that would let states penalize businesses that take part in boycotts or divestments of Israel. 

Both the Syria amendment and the anti-BDS provisions sparked division among Democrats. 

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyBacklash erupts at video depicting Trump killing media, critics Congress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds Administration to give 'top secret' briefing on Syria amid pushback MORE (D-Conn.) warned that the Syria proposal, offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPatient advocates launch drug pricing ad campaign Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs War of words at the White House MORE (R-Ky.), is “the absolute wrong way to address President Trump’s backwards foreign policy in the Middle East.”

In response to concerns from Democrats, the Senate easily cleared a tweak to McConnell's amendment that would clarify that the resolution should not be "constructed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of military force."

Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria, which precipitated the resignation of former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump turns Pelosi's 'meltdown' criticism around: 'She is a very sick person' War of words at the White House Trump calls Mattis 'world's most overrated general' over ISIS comments MORE, sparked fierce backlash on Capitol Hill. 

Two officials told The New York Times last year that the administration had ordered the U.S. military to start withdrawing troops in Afghanistan, but Trump, who has long railed against the war there, has not made an official announcement.

The Washington Post reported last week that the United States and the Taliban were moving closer to a deal that could result in the removal of U.S. troops from the country.

Meanwhile, Democrats had raised First Amendment concerns about the anti-BDS provision, which splintered most of the party’s 2020 contenders and caucus leadership. 

“While I do not support the BDS movement, we must defend every American’s constitutional right to engage in political activity. It is clear to me that this bill would violate Americans’ First Amendment rights,” Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Democrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate Krystal Ball on Sanders debate performance: 'He absolutely hit it out of the park' MORE (I-Vt.) said in a statement last week.