Senators Respond to Biden’s Pause on Bomb Delivery, Threat to Withhold More Arms for Israel

Pro-Israel lawmakers from both sides of the aisle decried the decision, which was welcomed by progressives and some Democrats.

News that President Joe Biden’s administration has paused a delivery of “high-payload” bombs and could withhold more weapons for Israel sparked outrage on Capitol Hill on May 9 among Republican senators.

Hours later, President Biden told CNN that civilians “have been killed in Gaza as a consequence” of Israel’s use of 2,000-pound bombs. The president went on to reiterate his opposition to a large-scale Israeli combat operation in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, stating, “If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons.”

“It’s outrageous,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told NTD News. “I’m sure Hamas is probably very happy with him. And it encourages them and actually makes it less likely that they’re going to do what needs to happen, which is surrender.”

Mr. Rubio, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and also sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said there could be a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip if Hamas surrenders, lays down its arms, and hands over hostages they took on Oct. 7.

“I think when they hear news like that, and then they see these freaks out here on the streets calling for Israel’s destruction as well, it encourages them to keep fighting, to hang on and to not give an inch, whether it’s in negotiations, or in their continued use of human shields, where these cowards hide in tunnels while people die above them,” the Florida Republican continued.

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Mr. Rubio suggested the decision to pause the delivery of certain munitions to Israel is to appeal to “an element of his base that wants—wants Israel destroyed and is pro-Hamas.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also called the decision to pause some munitions deliveries “ridiculous.” The Alabama Republican said he has been entirely supportive of Israel since the beginning of the war, but said public opinion appears to be shifting against the effort.

“Everything kind of started to turn around on Israel, thinking that they, they’re the culprits here. The culprit was Hamas. They’re the one that went in and killed several 1000 people in Israel and I’ve been all behind Israel, not getting revenge, but taking back what is—what is rightly theirs,” Mr. Tuberville told NTD News.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Politico that the U.S. side “shouldn’t be telling” an ally like Israel “how to conduct a war on their own borders.”

Some Republicans Weighing Impeachment

In a post to the X social media platform, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) argued that House Republicans should begin efforts to impeach President Biden under similar grounds as House Democrats impeached his predecessor, President Donald Trump, in 2019 for allegations of improperly conditioning aid to Ukraine.

That impeachment case focused on allegations President Trump held up a $400 million tranche of military aid for Ukraine to advance his personal political fortunes, and conditioned release of the aid on a commitment from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate his domestic political opponent, then-candidate Joe Biden.

Mr. Cotton voted to acquit President Trump during a 2020 Senate trial in that impeachment case.

“The House has no choice but to impeach Biden based on the Trump-Ukraine precedent of withholding foreign aid to help with reelection,” Mr. Cotton wrote. “Only with Biden, it’s true.”

Asked about Mr. Cotton’s arguments, Mr. Rubio told NTD News he hasn’t considered that impeachment premise but expressed interest in the idea.

“I think it’s outrageous. It’s an act of presidential malpractice, whether it rises to the level of impeachment. It’s an interesting comparison. We did have an impeachment here about claims that we denied weaponry to Ukraine, which was inaccurate,” the Florida Republican said.

Some Democrats Defend Aid Conditions

The ongoing war in the Gaza Strip has elicited increased alarm within some segments of the Democratic Party and their supporters.

Several congressional Democrats had called for a ceasefire and attempted to place conditions on new rounds of military aid for Israel. Some also voted against a $95 billion supplemental aid package last month that included billions of dollars for new military assistance for Israel.
“The U.S. should continue to support the return of hostages held by Hamas, advance regional stability, and combat antisemitism, but we shouldn’t be giving Israel 2,000 pound bombs,” Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) wrote in an X post on May 8. “I commend the Biden Administration’s decision to pause these bombs that have devastated Gaza.”

Fellow Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with the Democrats, also defended President Biden’s decision.

“Almost 35,000 Palestinians have already been killed in this war, and more than 78,000 have been wounded—70 percent of whom are women and children. As we speak, hundreds of thousands more children face the possibility of malnutrition and starvation,” Mr. Sanders said in a Thursday press statement.

Mr. Sanders noted many civilians in Gaza had moved to relative safety to Rafah earlier in the war when Israeli forces had focused more heavily on the northern part of the strip. He said around 1.3 million Gazans have gathered in the southern city, raising the population density there to around 50,000 people per square mile.

“This is also where the vast majority of humanitarian aid is received and distributed, and where most of the few remaining medical facilities are located,” Mr. Sanders added. “President Biden is right—the United States cannot continue to provide more bombs and artillery shells to support Netanyahu’s disastrous and inhumane war policies.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who voted for the $95 billion foreign aid package but has supported placing conditions on military aid to Israel, also welcomed President Biden’s decision to pause deliveries of certain weapons to Israel and place constraints around Israeli operations in Rafah.

“[President Biden] has long warned [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] that invading Rafah would be a ’red line’—it would result in untold civilian death & destruction, and undermine our efforts to return the hostages,“ Mr. Van Hollen wrote in a Wednesday evening X post. ”I applaud him for making clear today that the U.S. will not be complicit in this suffering.”

‘I Hard Disagree,’ Fetterman Says of Weapons Pause

While several of his fellow Democrats defended President Biden, Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) broke ranks over the decision to pause a weapons delivery and place conditions on new rounds of lethal aid.

“I hard disagree. And I was deeply disappointing [sic] on that,” Mr. Fetterman told NTD News on Thursday.

“I don’t believe there should be any conditions with Israel. When you are in a war with another side that has no conditions or any kinds of morality or any kinds of standards, I really think we need to be absolutely ready to stand with Israel and provide whatever they need,” Mr. Fetterman said.

Israeli officials have indicated they have sufficient means to continue their military operations in the Gaza Strip despite the pause in certain types of lethal aid from the United States.

“The army has munitions for the missions it plans, and for the missions in Rafah, too—we have what we need,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Adml. Daniel Hagari told reporters on May 9.

Mr. Netanyahu also said on May 9 that Israel would “stand alone” and “fight tooth and nail” if that’s what’s needed to achieve its wartime goals, but added “we have much more than fingernails” to continue the fight.

The Israeli prime minister has set out a wartime goal to eliminate Hamas and has said Rafah remains one of the group’s last major strongholds.

Mr. Fetterman insisted he hasn’t seen any actions by the Israeli side in the conflict that would give him pause.

“I have not witnessed anything, or any conduct on Israel’s side that would justify in my—in my own mind, that there should be any conditions,” he told NTD News.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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