May 16, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House passes bill forcing Biden to approve Israel arms shipments

Speaker Mike Johnson, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and red striped tie, speaking at a podium with a "stand with Israel" poster on it flanked by colleagues in front of stairs.

House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Allison Robbert/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

House Republicans along with more than a dozen Democrats voted on Thursday to pass legislation that would force President Biden to provide arms shipments to Israel.

Why it matters: The White House and Democrats have pushed hard against the bill, casting it as an unprecedented infringement on Biden's foreign policy prerogatives as chief executive.

  • The bill is unlikely to get a vote in the Senate, and the White House has said Biden would veto it.

Driving the news: The House voted 224-187 to pass the bill, which would require the "prompt delivery" of congressionally appropriated aid to Israel.

  • As an enforcement mechanism, the measure threatens to restrict funding to the State Department and Pentagon, including for the salaries of certain officials.
  • The 16 Democrats who voted for the bill were mostly moderates or swing-district lawmakers who are staunch supporters of Israel.
  • Three right-wing House Republicans, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), voted against the bill.

The backdrop: The bill was introduced over the weekend after it emerged that Biden was withholding a shipment of 2,000-pound bombs to Israel.

  • Biden has said he is trying to prevent an Israeli invasion of the Southern Gazan city of Rafah, which Democrats have long feared would result in a humanitarian catastrophe.
  • The rare decision to withhold arms shipments spurred bipartisan backlash in Congress and from donors.

Between the lines: It was a difficult vote for many centrist Democrats, who had to balance their loyalty for Biden with their staunch support of Israel.

  • Democrats faced pressure from AIPAC to vote for the bill and from Biden administration officials including National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to oppose it.
Go deeper