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Wednesday, June 19th, 2024

House advances Israel Security Assistance Support Act

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The House of Representatives last week voted through the Israel Security Assistance Support Act (H.R. 8369), which would restrict the president’s ability to withhold weapons transfers to Israel.

“The Biden Administration’s decision to withhold weapons is catastrophic and goes directly against the will of Congress,” Speaker Mike Johnson said. “With the passage of the Israel Security Assistance Support Act, we send 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.”

The legislation was introduced weeks after the Biden administration paused a shipment of 2000 pound bombs to Israel over concerns over their use in the Israeli assault on Rafah. H.R. 8369 specifies that no federal funds may be used to withhold, halt, reverse, or cancel the delivery of defense articles or defense services to Israel amidst its war with Hamas. It was introduced by U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), chairman of the Defense Appropriation Subcommittee, and co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and David Joyce (R-OH).

Supporters of the House bill pitched the halting of any defense weapons to Israel as misguided attempts to undermine a fight against radical terrorists.

“The passage of the Israel Security Assistance Support Act sends another strong message that the U.S. House of Representatives stands with our ally Israel in its mission to protect and defend its citizens,” Calvert. “It’s both sad and frustrating that President Biden’s political decision to withhold aid to Israel is now forcing Congress to exert our Constitutional power of the purse and demand the delivery of this security assistance following an overwhelming and bipartisan vote supporting Israel just a few weeks ago. The will of Congress and the American people must be carried out in support of Israel.”

The bill passed 224-187, with the support of 16 Democrats and opposition from three Republicans. If passed, the bill would bar any federal funds from being withheld, halted, reversed or canceled in relation to Israeli-earmarked defense articles or services. It would also cut funding to any Department of Defense (DoD) or Department of State employee who limits those deliveries and would punish agencies for doing so as well, while requiring periodic reports on these items to guarantee their delivery.

“This is a moment of moral clarity,” Cole said. “You either stand with Israel and their right to self-defense against terrorists who wish our ally and America harm—or accept sending a dangerous message of weakness to our enemies. This bill demands accountability and supports freedom. It holds President Biden answerable to the law and ensures we uphold our promises to our partners. The United States and Israel share an unbreakable alliance, and military aid to eradicate Hamas—an organization of evil that has killed and continues to hold Americans and Israelis hostage—must be delivered without delay. We can’t equivocate in our support or waver in our promise of ‘Never Again.’”