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US House of Representatives slams Biden administration for suspending heavy bomb shipments to Israel • Source New Mexico

US House of Representatives slams Biden administration for suspending heavy bomb shipments to Israel • Source New Mexico

 


WASHINGTON The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation rebuking President Joe Biden's decision to suspend some of its military assistance to Israel amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

The 224-187 vote approved a bill released over the weekend by a handful of Republicans that, in part, calls on the Biden administration to allow all previously approved arms transfers to Israel to proceed quickly in order to ensure that Israel can defend itself and defeat Israel's threats. Iran and its proxies, including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthis.

The measure states that withheld military assistance must be provided to Israel no later than 15 days after the bill becomes law and requires the secretaries of State and Defense to commit any funding to Israel within 30 days of the entry into force of the bill.

The bill now goes to the Senate, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, is unlikely to put it up for a vote. The White House threatened to veto the bill.

The president has already said he will veto it, so this isn't going anywhere, Schumer said Wednesday.

At a news conference Thursday morning outside the U.S. Capitol, House Speaker Mike Johnson accused Biden of emboldening Iran and using his authority to defend himself politically.

Israel must finish the job and America must help Israel extinguish the flame of terror fanned by Hamas. Not long ago, President Biden called for the elimination of Hamas. But he doesn't do that anymore. And now it is clear that Biden and Schumer have turned their backs on Israel. They carry water for Iran and its proxies, said Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana.

House Appropriations Chairman Tom Cole of Oklahoma; California Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert; Florida Domestic and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mario Daz-Balart of Florida; and Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Joyce of Ohio released the nine-page bill this weekend.

Quiet break

The legislation comes weeks after the Biden administration quietly suspended a shipment of heavy bombs to Israel over concerns that more civilians in Gaza could be killed by U.S.-supplied weapons.

The death toll has reached more than 35,000 in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Biden faces strong opposition from progressives, including high-profile protests on college campuses, against Israel's continued offensive following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

The originally planned single shipment, halted in late April, contained 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs, according to a May 9 Pentagon update.

Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder told reporters May 9 that the administration had not made a final decision on how to proceed with the expedition.

And as you know, we have provided billions of dollars in security assistance to Israel. We have supported their efforts to defend themselves, most recently (during) Iran's unprecedented attack. So there is no doubt that we will continue to support Israel when it comes to its defense, Ryder said at a press conference.

The United States and its allies shot down dozens of drones and missiles launched by Iran at Israel in mid-April, according to the Pentagon.

Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. financial support since World War II, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

Some House Democrats, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, have expressed concern about the administration's suspension of shipments, although she voted against the bill on Thursday.

President Biden has been unwavering in his commitment to Israel over the past seven months. His administration must stay the course and avoid any impression that our support is wavering, Wasserman Schultz said in a statement Friday.

Targeting remaining Hamas fighters while minimizing harm to civilians will require the best of our combined efforts. I share the President's concern about Palestinian civilians being used as human shields and understand the risks posed by a full-scale invasion of Rafah. However, we must remember that Hamas is eager to sacrifice as many Palestinian lives as possible and wants to maximize the civilian toll of this operation as part of its cowardly public relations campaign, she continued.

Multiple media outlets cite congressional aides as saying the White House is close to approving a billion-dollar arms transfer to Israel.

Asked by reporters Thursday about the announced deal, Johnson criticized it as a front designed to provide Biden with political cover.

The White House strongly opposes the bill

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during the press briefing Monday that the administration does not support the legislation.

“We strongly oppose attempts to restrict the President's ability to deploy U.S. security assistance consistent with U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives,” she said.

Jean-Pierre added that the Biden administration plans to spend every last cent, in accordance with legal obligations.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at the same press briefing that the administration has suspended sending 2,000-pound bombs because we don't think they should be dropped in densely populated cities.

We still believe it would be a mistake to launch a major military operation in the heart of Rafah that would endanger large numbers of civilians without a clear strategic gain, Sullivan said. The president has made it clear that he would not provide certain offensive weapons for such an operation, should it occur.

Sullivan said the Biden administration is working with the Israeli government to find a better way to ensure the defeat of Hamas throughout Gaza, including Rafah. He also noted that the United States continues to send military assistance to Israel.

The White House issued an administration policy statement Tuesday further criticizing the legislation and issuing a veto threat.

The bill is a misguided response to a deliberate distortion of the government's approach to Israel, he says. The president has been clear: we will always ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself.

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