May 16, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Cruz plans to jam Democrats on Biden’s Israel policy

Ted Cruz hold up his hand

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at a U.S. Capitol press conference in January. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) plans to leverage the humanitarian pier in Gaza as a way to put Democrats on the record over President Biden's approach to the Israel-Hamas war.

Why it matters: Cruz is signaling that if Democrats don't vote for his military aid legislation, he will force a vote on the pier.

  • The temporary floating pier was completed today and will be used to help deliver food to starving Palestinians in Gaza, the U.S. military said.
  • Cruz wants to exploit divisions in the Democratic Party over Biden's decision to put a hold on 3,500 U.S. bombs that were bound for Israel.
  • The White House has issued a veto threat on the House bill, which passed Thursday. Schumer has said he doesn't plan to bring it up.

Driving the news: Cruz plans to jam Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) by introducing a War Powers Resolution to prevent the military from the "construction, maintenance, and operation" of the Gaza pier, according to a copy of an email Cruz's office sent to Senate Republicans and obtained by Axios.

  • Cruz's office argues that the resolution is privileged because the pier has been attacked twice, according to the email.
  • The privileged status of the resolution allows it to be fast-tracked to the floor, setting up the possibility for a vote immediately after the Senate returns at the beginning of June.
  • Privileged resolutions are not subject to a 60-vote threshold.

Cruz is also moving forward with a separate bill, the Assuring Resupply of Munitions Act of 2024 (ARM Act), that would forbid the administration from pausing weapons shipments to Israel.

  • It's similar to the House bill but it would keep the mandate in place until a year after hostilities have ceased, according to Cruz's office.
  • On Tuesday, the White House called the House GOP bill a "misguided reaction to a deliberate distortion of the administration's approach to Israel."
  • House Democrats are fuming at Republicans for forcing a vote on Biden's weapons pause, but some centrist lawmakers are preparing to vote for it.

Zoom out: National security adviser Jake Sullivan will travel to Saudi Arabia and Israel this weekend as part of the White House's effort to dissuade Israel from launching a broad military operation in Rafah.

  • Biden has indicated that a major attack on the southern Gaza city would cross a "red line" for U.S. support, which has led to a further deterioration of the dealings between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the president.
  • "We are not a vassal state of the United States!" Netanyahu thundered during a meeting with his security cabinet, according to Axios.
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