Jun 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House passes ICC sanctions bill despite White House opposition

Rep. Chip Roy, wearing a blue suit and sitting at a committee dais.

Rep. Chip Roy. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The House passed legislation Tuesday that would sanction International Criminal Court officials for seeking arrest warrants against senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Why it matters: The White House opposes sanctions, and the bill is likely to stall in the Senate, but 42 pro-Israel House Democrats broke with their party and voted for it.

  • House Republicans had initially expressed a desire to work with Democrats to craft bipartisan legislation, but those talks ran aground after the White House came out against sanctions.
  • The White House and senators have discussed alternatives to sanctions, Axios previously reported.

Driving the news: The bill, introduced by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and co-sponsored by more than 60 Republicans, passed 247-155.

  • Two Republicans voted "present."
  • The nine-page measure would impose sanctions on anyone involved in ICC investigations or prosecutions of Americans or citizens of U.S. allies that are not ICC members, such as Israel.

Context: The vote comes after ICC prosecutor Karim Khan announced plans to seek arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

  • Lawmakers in both parties and President Biden harshly criticized the decision, but many top Democrats stopped short of endorsing sanctions.
  • Still, 19 Democrats signed onto a letter to the Biden administration last week endorsing more limited sanctions against ICC officials.

What to watch: Several pro-Israel Democrats who support sanctions in theory blasted the measure as overly broad but said they would still be willing to work with Republicans on a narrower bill.

  • "There are many ways to draft reasonable sanctions ... we should sanction the particular prosecutor for what he did," Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) told Axios.
  • Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) said she would "rather have a bill that has better language in it," adding that "a bipartisan bill would be a much better approach."

Go deeper: ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Hamas leaders

Go deeper