Marco Rubio
Marco RubioReuters

Republican and Democratic US senators on Thursday introduced legislation to provide $3.3 billion in annual aid to Israel, Reuters reports.

The new proposal seeks to put into law an aid agreement between the two countries reached in 2016 amid concern over rising Middle East tensions.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Chris Coons co-sponsored the bill, a standalone provision of a broader measure that stalled a year ago, according to a text of the bill seen by Reuters.

The bill would codify the 2016 memorandum of understanding between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government that guarantees Israel $38 billion in security assistance over 10 years, protecting the assistance from the whims of any current or future president.

The measure that stalled last year included some provisions broadly supported by members of both parties, including the aid, but it also included a clause that would have let state and local governments punish Americans for boycotting Israel. Opponents, including many Democrats, saw that provision as an impingement of free speech.

A number of Democrats shied away from that bill, citing free speech concerns. These senators included Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Rubio and Coons introduced the bill amid increased tensions in the Middle East after President Donald Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Tehran retaliated with a missile attack on an Iraqi base housing US soldiers.

The 2016 Memorandum of Understanding was the biggest pledge of U.S. military assistance made to any country.

In statements emailed to Reuters, Rubio said Israel faces “unprecedented threats” and Coons said, “The events of the past few days are a stark reminder of the importance of US assistance to Israel’s security.”