House passes bill rebuking Biden on pausing weapons for Israel

May 16, 2024
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WASHINGTON — The Republican-led House on Thursday passed a bill that would put restrictions on the president’s ability to withhold weapons transfers to Israel in a vote that drew attention to a divided Democratic caucus on the war in Gaza.

The bill passed the House in a 224-187 vote. Sixteen Democrats voted for the legislation, including Reps. Thomas Suozzi of New York; Jared Moskowitz of Florida; and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey. Only three Republicans opposed the measure.

The vote was largely symbolic — the bill is not expected to be taken up on the other side of the Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has indicated that the act is dead on arrival, noting that the measure is “not going anywhere.”

Passage of the Israel Security Assistance Support Act, which would prevent federal funds be used to withhold defense services or weapons to Israel, comes shortly after the White House halted a shipment of weapons to the U.S. ally.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., applauded the bill’s passage while slamming the Biden administration withholding certain weapons from Israel, including 2,000-pound bombs and 500-pound bombs.

“The Biden Administration’s decision to withhold weapons is catastrophic and goes directly against the will of Congress,” Johnson said in a statement.

He added that the passage of the act sends “a clear message of solidarity and support to Israel and demand the urgent delivery of defense weapons to our most important ally in the Middle East.”

President Joe Biden said in an interview with CNN last week that the U.S. would not supply Israel with certain weapons if their military invades Gaza’s southern city of Rafah. In the same interview, Biden said that Israel has used the 2,000 pound bombs to kill Palestinian civilians.

The White House emphasized its opposition to the House GOP bill on Tuesday, arguing in a statement that it would “undermine the President’s ability to execute an effective foreign policy.” The statement also said that Biden would veto the measure if it were to reach his desk.

“The bill is a misguided reaction to a deliberate distortion of the Administration’s approach to Israel,” the statement said. “The President has been clear: we will always ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself.”

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