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McConnell’s gambit is a transparent one, said Halie Soifer, the director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America. In an interview, she noted that the four components of S.1 — the bill also expands sanctions on Syria’s Assad regime and strengthens the U.S.-Jordan alliance — were under consideration in the previous Congress, when Republicans controlled the Senate, the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives. (Democrats now control the House.)

“If it was so important for Senator McConnell to pass this legislation in the 115th Congress, he could have done so at any time,” Soifer said, referring to the almost limitless power of the majority leader to advance legislation. “He has clearly made a political calculation.”