The United States faces a looming crisis - that, at least, was a point on which Democrats and Republicans agreed Tuesday night in a pair of televised addresses during primetime.
The US Senate's first bill of 2019 is not created to address the economic inequality and socio-economic injustices in the country, but to protect and defend Israel from the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
For now, the package will nearly certainly stall.
Hours before Trump's brief meeting with Democrats at the White House, his message to a handful of frustrated Republicans anxious about the blowback from the shutdown was to "hang together" until he can get billions in wall funding.
Of course, he knows how numerous newly elected radical Democrats love this stuff. "This is the US where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality". "The Senate should not take up any bills unrelated to reopening the government until @SenateMajLdr lets us vote on exactly that". The Anti-Defamation League notes that BDS is a campaign to delegitimize Israel as the Jewish state and that the movement's founding goals "including denying the Jewish people the universal right of self-determination - along with numerous strategies employed in BDS campaigns are anti-Semitic". "Despite my strong support for Israel, I oppose this legislation because it clearly violates the Constitution", she said.
"We knew going into 2019 that the Democrats would continue their reckless obstruction and grandstanding", the group said in an action alert to its members. Democrats say they will block it until the government shutdown ends.
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders criticised the measure on Twitter for punishing "Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity". "We can install new technology to scan cars and trucks for drugs coming into our nation; we can hire the personnel we need to facilitate trade and immigration at the border; and we can fund more innovation to detect unauthorized crossings".
The shutdown is not the reason Senate Democrats don't want to move to Middle East Security Bill. Following legal challenges by the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, anti-boycott state laws in Arizona and Kansas have successfully been blocked by Federal Courts in the past year.
"Any contention that the bill infringes upon First Amendment rights is simply wrong", said AIPAC's Marshall Wittman by email.
Punishment aimed at companies that choose to boycott Israel can also sweep up individual American citizens in its punitive net because individual contractors often work for state or local governments under the auspices of a sole proprietorship or some other business entity.
McConnell voiced his frustration with the tactic on the Senate floor, saying "America's vital interests in the Middle East have been challenged by chaos" and that the package of legislation would allow the Congress to address "all of this head on".
"Screw 'em", Representative Peter King of NY said of Democrats, as he prepared to vote against reopening the Treasury Department and the IRS.
He and several other senators support the Israel-related legislation on its merits, and it is expected to pass once the shutdown ends.
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