- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2024

House Speaker Mike Johnson on Thursday pressured President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer to consider legislation that would force the White House to continue arms transfers to Israel.

The speaker’s push comes after Mr. Biden threatened to veto the legislation this week, prompting Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, to declare on Wednesday that he wouldn’t put the bill on the Senate floor.

Mr. Johnson, Louisiana Republican, accused the pair of making a “brazen political” decision by trying to shelve the legislation. Critics of Mr. Biden’s threats to pause arms shipments to Israel have called it a move to shore up support with voters against his handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

“They’ve been appeasing Iran and they’ve been criticizing Israel and now they’re trying to appease a radical band of pro-Hamas supporters in their party,” Mr. Johnson said. “That’s clearly what’s happening here.”

The House was set to vote on the Israel Security Assistance Support Act from Rep. Ken Calvert, California Republican, later Thursday. Though Mr. Johnson said the bill has widespread bipartisan support in the lower chamber, most Democrats were expected to vote against the bill.

House Democrats have generally accused the GOP of using the bill as a political tool that wouldn’t help Israel or send any new weapons or aid, and instead would undermine Mr. Biden’s ability to make foreign policy decisions.

But divisions within the Democratic Party over the Biden administration’s handling of the conflict could see some members join the GOP on the floor vote.

Thursday’s vote stems from Mr. Biden’s threats to further pause shipments of weapons to Israel depending on whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reins in his strategy to charge into Rafah, home to over 1 million Palestinians.

The president already held up a shipment of thousands of bombs to the Jewish state.

Mr. Johnson said the president and the top Senate Democrat’s choice to not move ahead with the bill was a dramatic about-face from just a few months ago when both pledged full support for Israel.

“This is a catastrophic decision with global implications,” Mr. Johnson said. “It is obviously being done as a political calculation, and we cannot let this stand.”

• Alex Miller can be reached at amiller@washingtontimes.com.

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