Apr 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Iranian attack spurs bipartisan calls for swift U.S. action

The U.S. Capitol building.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Members of Congress in both parties called for an immediate U.S. response to a wide-ranging Iranian drone attack against Israel on Saturday.

Why it matters: The attack, launched directly from Iranian soil, represents an unprecedented escalation in what had previously been a proxy war between the two nations, Axios' Barak Ravid reported.

  • A Biden administration spokesperson said the U.S. "will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran."
  • House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said the House's schedule for next week will be changed to include votes on "legislation that supports our ally Israel and holds Iran and its terrorist proxies accountable."

What they're saying: House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said in a statement that the U.S. "must show our full resolve" and that he will "continue to engage with the White House to insist upon a proper response."

  • Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), in a statement, called for the administration to "take concrete steps to support Israel," including "immediate U.S. action to back any Israeli response."
  • Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), one of the most staunchly pro-Israel Democrats in Congress, told Axios the U.S. "should assist our ally in intercepting those strikes."
  • Some went a step further, with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) calling for Biden to "launch aggressive retaliatory strikes on Iran."

Zoom in: Some lawmakers called for Congress to pass legislation responding to the attack.

  • Lawler and other GOP lawmakers called for the House to try again to pass a stand-alone military aid package for Israel, as well as sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
  • Democrats called for the House to pass the Senate's $95 billion Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan aid package. "Our allies cannot afford to wait any longer, and neither should we," said former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

What to watch: Lawmakers are requesting briefings from the Biden administration when Congress returns to session on Monday, according to lawmakers in both parties.

  • That includes Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, two members of the panel told Axios.
  • Johnson has been briefed and is receiving "regular updates," according to his office.

The bottom line: "The Iranian Regime appears to have made an intractable miscalculation, the gravity of which won't be known for some hours," Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, told Axios.

  • Whether that calls for a direct U.S. response, he said, remains to be seen "until we know the gravity and targets of the attack."
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