Updated Oct 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: House members tee up pro-Israel resolution

An Israeli troop carrier crosses a road in Sderot on Sunday. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

A bipartisan pair of House members is preparing a resolution condemning the recent attack on Israel and declaring that the U.S. "stands ready for urgent requests for additional assistance," Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Many in Washington and beyond are concerned that the lack of a House speaker could hamstring the nation's ability to respond to the grueling incursion by providing additional aid to Israel.

Driving the news: The resolution is being led by freshman Reps. Zach Nunn (R-Iowa) and Don Davis (D-N.C.), according to a "dear colleague" letter soliciting signatures, a copy of which was obtained by Axios.

  • The resolution will declare "unwavering" American support for Israel and say the U.S. "stands ready for urgent requests for additional assistance Israel may require," according to the letter.
  • It also will affirm Israel's right to act in self defense, describe Hamas' attacks as "international terrorism and aggression," and call on President Biden to provide intelligence, military and diplomatic support to Israel and call for foreign governments to expel Hamas personnel.
  • As Axios reported Saturday, Biden has instructed his team to give Israel all the support it needs, including intelligence sharing and other assistance — but the administration is concerned that the chaos in the House might complicate efforts to provide additional aid.

What they're saying: Nunn told Axios that the draft was coordinated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and "has most of the [freshmen] and many veterans as co-sponsors."

  • A House Republican who signed onto the resolution said the plan is to introduce it when the House returns Tuesday — before members are set to vote on a new speaker.
  • Another House Republican described it as a "goodwill" resolution that "coincidentally, will test" what the House can do without a speaker if it's put to a vote before the speaker vote.
  • A spokesperson for Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What we're watching: The limits of McHenry's power remains a subject of debate among lawmakers and scholars.

  • Some – most notably Rules Committee ranking member Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) – have said McHenry's authority is constrained to overseeing the election of a speaker, but several experts who spoke to Axios argued the House has broad discretion to define his role.
  • "If they pass a resolution, it does then create a precedent that they can do substantive business," said Georgetown Law professor Josh Chafetz.
  • Michael Thorning, director of structural democracy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said "there is probably very little, if any, actual restriction on what a majority of the House could do right now."

The big picture: Lawmakers are also finding ways around thorny questions about McHenry's status.

  • House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) was briefed on Israel and plans to try to secure an all-members' briefing, his office told Axios.
  • The House Intelligence Committee is also expected to receive a briefing this week, a source familiar with the matters told Axios.
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