The Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that advocates for strong support for U.S. allies in the Middle East and critiques the Trump administrations plans to rapidly withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

The Republican-led Senate approved the S.1 bill, known as Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, passed by a vote of 77-23. The bill, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) authorizes renewed sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime, and calls for penalizing businesses that engage in anti-Israel boycotts.

It also includes a nonbinding amendment introduced by Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that warns that a “precipitous withdrawal of United States forces” from Syria or Afghanistan could affect “hard-won gains and United States national security.”

Lawmakers from both parties expressed concern when news broke last December that President Donald Trump had ordered a rapid withdrawal of troops from Syria, and later made a similar call regarding the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan (Defense Daily, Dec. 19, 2018).

In a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Tuesday, U.S. Central Command Commander Army Gen. Joseph Votel testified to committee members that he had not been made aware of Trump’s plans to withdraw troops prior to the Dec. 18, 2018 announcement.

“I was not aware of the specific announcement,” Votel said in response to a query by SASC Member Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), ranking member of the SASC Airland Subcommittee. “Certainly, we were aware that [Trump] had expressed a desire and intent in the past to depart from” Syria, he added.