Updated May 10, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Democratic backlash grows over Biden pausing Israel arms sales

President Biden, wearing a blue suit, aviator sunglasses and stepping out of Air Force One.

President Biden. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images.

A growing number of pro-Israel Democratic lawmakers is speaking out against President Biden's decision to pause weapons transfers to Israel.

Why it matters: It adds to pressure from Israelis, Republicans and major Democratic donors, even as Biden has gotten support from much of his party.

Driving the news: In a letter to Biden on Friday, 26 Democrats led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) wrote that they are "deeply concerned about the message the Administration is sending to Hamas and other Iranian-backed terrorist proxies" with the pauses.

  • "With democracy under assault around the world, we cannot undermine our ally Israel, especially in her greatest hour of need. America's commitments must always be ironclad," they wrote.
  • The more than two dozen signers include several staunchly pro-Israel lawmakers who have already spoken out about the pauses.
  • The letter was first reported by Jewish Insider.

Context: The Biden administration has paused transfers of ammunition and 500-pound and 2000-pound bombs to forestall an invasion of the Southern Gazan city of Rafah, Axios' Barak Ravid reported.

  • Biden has warned that if Israel invades Rafah, he will stop supplying certainly offensive weaponry altogether.
  • A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

Reality check: Many other Democrats have voiced support for the pauses, which come after repeated pressure from large swaths of the party for Biden to withhold weapons transfers to Israel.

  • "I support the President's practical decision to pause the delivery of high payload bombs to Israel, and his clear position on the conditions for U.S. weapons transfers moving forward," said Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

The other side: "The arguments that somehow we're walking away from Israel fly in the face of the facts," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Thursday.

  • "I mean, this is a president who visited Israel within days of the October 7th attacks. This is a president who rushed additional military articles to Israel and, frankly, provided expertise from our own military to go over there to help them."

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