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House votes to require delivery of bombs to Israel

Updated May 16, 2024 - 4:34 pm

WASHINGTON — The House delivered a rebuke to President Joe Biden on Thursday for pausing a shipment of bombs to Israel, passing legislation that seeks to force the weapons transfer.

Seeking to discourage Israel from its offensive on the crowded southern Gaza city of Rafah, the Biden administration this month put on hold a weapons shipment of 3,500 bombs — some as large as 2,000 pounds — that are capable of killing hundreds in populated areas.

Republicans were outraged, accusing Biden of abandoning the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East.

Debate over the bill, rushed to the House floor by GOP leadership this week, showed Washington’s deeply fractured outlook on the Israel-Hamas war.

The White House and Democratic leadership scrambled to rally support from a House caucus that ranges from moderates frustrated that the president would allow any daylight between the U.S. and Israel to progressives outraged that he is still sending any weapons at all.

The bill passed comfortably 224-187 as 16 Democrats joined with most Republicans to vote in favor. Three Republicans voted against it.

On the right, Republicans said the president had no business chiding Israel for how it uses the U.S.-manufactured weapons that are instrumental in its war against Hamas. They have not been satisfied with the Biden administration moving forward this week on a new $1 billion sale to Israel of tank ammunition, tactical vehicles and mortar rounds.

“We’re beyond frustrated,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said. “I don’t think we should tell the Israelis how to conduct their military campaign, period.”

The House bill condemns Biden for initiating the pause on the bomb shipment and would withhold funding for the State Department, Department of Defense and the National Security Council until the delivery is made.

The White House has said Biden would veto the bill if it passes Congress, and the Democratic-led Senate seems certain to reject it.

“It’s not going anywhere,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier this week.

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