Democrats in the US Senate have prevented consideration of a bill on new sanctions against the Syrian government in protest against the ongoing government shutdown.
Senator Rubio, however, slammed Democrats for blaming the bill's blockage on the shutdown.
Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of IL said the President's speech was "completely inconsistent with reality", arguing it's something he would expect to hear at a rally, not in the Oval Office.
The bill empowers "state and local governments in the United States to counter the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement's discriminatory economic warfare against the Jewish state", a press release on Senator Rubio's website says.
Only three other Republican Senators have said the shutdown should end: Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, and Thom Tillis.
But Republicans argued the vote was repetitive and "meaningless". The vote count was little changed from the 241-190 vote on January 3 for the six-bill package. That means that if enough senators stick together, they hold up legislation until the government reopens.
A federal judge ruled in favor of the conservative states last month, saying the law should fall after Republicans acted in 2017 to end the penalty for not having insurance coverage.
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"It's absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity", Sanders wrote on Twitter, sharing an article from The Intercept.
Republicans see an opening to focus on newly elected House Democrats, including the country's first Palestinian American woman in Congress, Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib, who has spoken about the rights of Americans to support the BDS issue.
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democrats he will vote to block debate on the measure until McConnell agrees to take up House-passed bills to reopen the closed government departments, according to a senior Senate Democratic aide. It wasn't until after winning her Democratic primary that Tlaib "explicitly endors [ed] a one-state solution and oppos [ed] aid [to Israel], a change celebrated by far-left Palestinian activists, who sharply criticized her for seeking out and receiving the J Street endorsement".
"It's an insult to the families of all of those victims of crime (and) the opioid crisis, which is so real in nearly every community in this country", he told reporters. "That is different than supporting the underlying movement".
"They forgot what country they represent".
The most contentious aspect of the bill, however, would introduce protections for states' ability to pass laws created to thwart the BDS movement targeting Israel. The effort draws from the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa in the 1980s and the earlier African American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.
The Senate legislation also would authorize at least $3.3 billion annually through fiscal year 2028 for security assistance for Israel and would reauthorize expedited defense sales to Jordan.