House GOP passes bill to force Biden to send bombs to Israel, testing Democratic unity (2024)


WASHINGTON – The House passed a bill on Thursday that would coerce President Joe Biden to continue sending U.S. arms to Israel after he paused bomb shipments over its conduct in the war in Gaza.

The Israel Security Assistance Support Act cleared the House by a vote of 224-187, garnering a handful of Democratic votes and testing the party’s ability to unite over the White House’s Gaza war policy.

The legislation came after Biden announced he would hold back shipments of heavy bombs and artillery shells over concerns Israel would deploy them in Rafah, where more than a million civilians are sheltering from the war. The bill aims to force the White House to continue supplying arms to Israel or risk lose funding for the Pentagon and the State Department.

The vote was another messaging effort from Republicans as they seek to make Israel and combating antisemitism one of the party’s key issues in the 2024 election. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and his fellow House GOP leaders held a press conference on the Capitol steps – a venue typically used for high-profile events rather than for what is largely considered to be a messaging bill – assailing the administration for the shipment pause.

More: Egypt rips Israel's 'desperate attempts' to deflect blame for Gaza crisis

“We want the president to hear this loud and clear. He said just not long ago that we had to have an ironclad support for Israel. Well that’s what he previously proclaimed but his actions are doing exactly the opposite,” Johnson said.

The legislation has drawn widespread condemnation from Democrats who accuse Republicans of politicizing the issue to drive a wedge between them ahead of the 2024 elections. The vote exposed divides in the party over Israel.

“It’d be nice if they would actually come forward with legislation that would help to resolve some of these issues” in Gaza, Rep. Glenn Ivey, D-Md., told USA TODAY. Along with dividing the caucus on Israel, Ivey alleged Republicans were also looking to split Democrats from “the Jewish community and the pro-Israel community.”

“It’s clear this is an effort by House Republicans to just try to divide us,” Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., said. “No crisis goes to waste in the name of playing politics.”

More: Biden goes ahead with more than $1 billion in weapons to Israel

That’s not to say though that some pro-Israel Democrats weren’t opposed to the administration’s decision to pause the bomb shipments. A group of 26 House Democrats led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., sent a letter to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan last week expressing concern “about the message the Administration is sending to Hamas and other Iranian-backed terrorist proxies.”

While the White House has already threatened to veto the legislation and Senate Majority Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he will not bring it to the Senate floor, Democratic leadership and the White House actively lobbied members to vote against the bill. Those efforts turned out to be a success, with only 16 Democrats supporting the legislation.

Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., one of Israel’s strongest supporters in the Democratic caucus, committed to voting for the bill days before the vote. Torres was critical of Biden’s pause on bomb shipments and blamed the administration for the difficult vote.

Biden, Torres told USA TODAY, “created an opening for Republicans to weaponize the issue against us,” and said Democrats' divisions on the issue are “playing into their hands.”

More: 'He's had it': Biden's patience with Israel may be wearing thin as Rafah questions linger

Other Democratic defectors described their votes as reluctant. “There’s two decisions. You can work with us on a bipartisan bill ... and that is the best thing for the strategic partnership,” Rep. Greg Landsman, D-Ohio, a Jewish Democrat, told USA TODAY. “Or you do something that helps your candidates. And they have chosen the latter.”

Democrats also chastised Republicans for pushing the bill even after reports the White House is preparing to send a new $1 billion arms shipment to Israel, arguing the new package makes the legislation redundant.

“What this is about is saying it’s a specific bomb ... that has about a quarter of a mile blast radius, can’t be used in a densely populated city like Rafah because the civilian casualties would be unacceptable. That’s what this is about,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said. “They’re all messaging bills. This is a complete waste of time but these guys are really good at wasting time.”

House GOP passes bill to force Biden to send bombs to Israel, testing Democratic unity (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Merrill Bechtelar CPA

Last Updated:

Views: 5765

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Merrill Bechtelar CPA

Birthday: 1996-05-19

Address: Apt. 114 873 White Lodge, Libbyfurt, CA 93006

Phone: +5983010455207

Job: Legacy Representative

Hobby: Blacksmithing, Urban exploration, Sudoku, Slacklining, Creative writing, Community, Letterboxing

Introduction: My name is Merrill Bechtelar CPA, I am a clean, agreeable, glorious, magnificent, witty, enchanting, comfortable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.