GOP lawmakers draft plan to force Biden to release congressionally approved military aid to Israel

May 15, 2024 | Political News

On Tuesday, Republicans in the US Senate filed legislation to force the Biden administration to continue providing military aid to Israel, per congressional approval. Biden had paused the aid after taking issue with Israel's military strategy.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) introduced a Senate version of legislation that is circulating in the GOP-controlled House that would bypass Biden’s pause in arms sales to the Jewish state. According to the Washington Free Beacon, the White House has been lobbying against the bill while House Democrats are also working to scuttle the legislation. 

Cotton’s Senate version is likely to face similar challenges in the upper chamber. The White House claimed it paused the shipments to force Israel into abandoning its planned incursion into Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip, where terrorist leadership is believed to be hiding, surrounded by some of the approximately 133 remaining hostages. 

Cotton’s legislation would also cancel the salaries of any Biden official at the State Department or Pentagon who attempts to prevent arms shipments to Israel. Over 20 GOP senators have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, including Rick Scott (R-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). 

Cotton told the outlet in a statement, “Joe Biden has sanctioned Israelis and placed an arms embargo on Israel while giving sanctions relief to Iran with no arms embargo for Iran. This bill will ensure that our Israeli allies continue to receive the support that they need to defeat Hamas, while making clear that any official who supports this embargo will be doing so without a paycheck.”

Biden’s press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters: “We strongly, strongly oppose attempts to constrain the president’s ability to deploy a US security assistance consistent with US foreign policy and national security objectives.”

Over the weekend, the House version of the bill was introduced and has the support of the chamber’s Republican majority. Though Democratic leaders in the House are lobbying their members to oppose the bill, some, including Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), have supported the GOP. 

He told Axios, “I have a general rule of supporting pro-Israel legislation unless it includes a poison pill—like cuts to domestic policy.” Following the blowback to Biden’s decision to pause the weapons to America’s closest ally in the Middle East, The Wall Street Journal revealed that the White House notified Congress it was moving forward with more than $1 billion in new weapons deals for Israel. According to the report, the weapons package includes $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds.