Senate approves Syria, anti-BDS bill
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The Senate passed legislation on Thursday breaking with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report 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 MurphyCongress set for chaotic year-end sprint Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (D-Conn.) warned that the Syria proposal, offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive things to know about Georgia's Senate runoffs Obama chief economist says Democrats should accept smaller coronavirus relief package if necessary Memo to Biden: Go big — use the moment to not only rebuild but to rebuild differently 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 MattisBiden under pressure to remove Trump transgender military ban quickly Progressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper 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 SandersBiden announces all-female White House communications team The 'diploma divide' in American politics Bernie Sanders should opt for a government-created vaccine from China or Russia MORE (I-Vt.) said in a statement last week.