May 9, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Republicans want to force Biden to send arms to Israel

President Biden, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie.

President Biden. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images.

Republican lawmakers are pushing legislation aimed at stopping President Biden from withholding weapons shipments to Israel.

Why it matters: The administration's move to block the arms sales has drawn backlash from pro-Israel lawmakers in both parties.

  • Most recently, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) said in a statement on Thursday he is "deeply concerned" about the decision "as well as the President's comments about withholding security assistance to Israel."

What's happening: The administration has paused transfers of ammunition, 500-pound bombs and 2000-pound bombs – a way of signaling U.S. concerns about a potential invasion of Rafah, per Axios' Barak Ravid.

  • Biden said in a CNN interview on Wednesday that the U.S. will stop supplying offensive weaponry that could be used for an assault on Rafah if Israel makes the decision to invade.
  • "If they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically ... to deal with the cities," he said.

Driving the news: Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas) introduced the Immediate Support for Israel Act on Thursday, which would require transfers of some weapons to Israel to occur within 30 days of procurement.

  • "Israel is currently engaged in a war with a terrorist organization that is still holding over 100 civilian hostages. There is simply no excuse for this delay," Van Duyne said in a statement.
  • The bill would only apply to weapons approved in the $95 billion foreign aid package that Congress passed last month, however. The shipments Biden has paused were authorized and appropriated by earlier legislation.

Zoom in: Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) is taking things a step further, telling Fox News he is drafting articles of impeachment against Biden for withholding the aid.

  • Several GOP lawmakers have floated impeachment as the ideal legislative route, with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) saying the House "has no choice but to impeach Biden."
  • It's a long-shot, however, especially given that the House's more than year-long impeachment inquiry into the Biden family's finances has fallen flat.
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