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House passes bill scolding Biden over arms suspension for Israel

WASHINGTON — The Republican-led House passed a bill Thursday that would restrict the president’s ability to suspend arms transfers to Israel in a vote that drew attention to the Democratic caucus’ division over the war in Gaza.

The bill passed the House 224-187. Sixteen Democrats voted in favor, including Thomas Suozzi of New York, Jared Moskowitz of Florida and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey. Only three Republicans opposed it.

The vote was largely symbolic: the bill should not pass on the other side of the Capitol. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has indicated the measure is dead, saying the measure “is not going anywhere.”

Passage of the Supporting Israel Security Assistance Act, which would prevent federal funds from being used to deny defense services or weapons to Israel, comes shortly after the White House halted a delivery of arms to the American ally.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., applauded the bill’s passage while lambasting the Biden administration’s withholding of some weapons from Israel, including 2,000-pound bombs and 500 pound bombs.

“The Biden administration’s decision to withhold weapons is catastrophic and goes directly against the will of Congress,” Johnson said in a statement.

He added that the passage of the law sends “a clear message of solidarity and support for Israel” and demanded “the urgent delivery of defense weapons to our most important ally in the Middle East.”

President Joe Biden said in a CNN interview last week that the United States would not provide certain weapons to Israel if its army invaded the southern Gaza town of Rafah. He said in the interview that Israel used 2,000-pound bombs to kill Palestinian civilians.

The White House on Tuesday emphasized its opposition to the Republican Party’s bill, arguing in a statement that it “would harm the President’s ability to implement effective foreign policy.” The statement also said Biden would veto the measure if it reached his desk.

After the vote, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson called the bill a “deliberate distortion” of Biden’s policies, saying the legislation was “intended to score political points, not to help Israel.”

“President Biden will not take second place in his support for Israel and will ensure that Israel has everything it needs to defeat Hamas,” Watson said in a statement. “President Biden also has a strong commitment to protecting innocent civilians.”

Outside the Capitol, a group of about 20 pro-Palestinian congressmen demonstrated before the House vote, calling on Biden and Congress to “immediately end U.S. support for Israel’s attack on civilians in Gaza,” said Congresswoman Samantha Elghanayan. . Ro Khanna, told NBC News.

Protests from congressional staff are relatively rare, and Elghanayan stressed that she was protesting on her own time, not as part of her job.

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., called for the staffers to be fired.

“They don’t have to take taxpayer money, which is what they do when they come out to protest during their work hours, and waste that taxpayer money to express their opinion that, frankly, no one asked them to “, did he declare.

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News Source : www.nbcnews.com

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