A standalone bill to send $17.6 billion in unconditional assistance to Israel failed in the House on Tuesday night. Lawmakers cited a wide range of rationales for their opposition, with progressives specifically objecting to the idea of sending Israel a “blank check” for its genocidal assault on Gaza.
Due to stringent rules for certain types of bills set as a condition by the Republicans’ most far right caucus, the bill required a two-thirds majority of 290 votes to pass, meaning that House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) would have needed a sizeable portion of the Democratic caucus to vote for the bill.
Ultimately, the bill was rejected 250 to 180, with 14 Republicans and 166 Democrats voting “no,” and only 46 Democrats voting with the majority of Republicans to pass the bill. It failed passage shortly after Republicans’ effort to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas also fell flat.
Many of the Democrats and Republicans who voted against the passage are otherwise supportive of sending unconditional military assistance to Israel, despite vast evidence that Israel is using U.S. support and tax dollars to commit war crimes and genocide in Gaza.
However, these lawmakers voted against the bill largely due to concerns that Republican leaders wouldn’t pass other proposals, like military funding for Ukraine and assistance for Taiwan, if it weren’t attached to assistance to Israel’s massacre. In fact, House Democratic leaders had held a closed-door meeting on Tuesday morning for this reason, with President Joe Biden having also threatened a veto over the same concern.
A contingent of progressives loudly condemned the bill, citing their opposition to sending Israel even more unconditional aid, especially as it carries out its vast military and starvation campaign in Gaza.
“Here we go again, sending $17.6 billion — U.S. tax dollars — with no conditions attached to [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s extremist government to drop more bombs on innocent Palestinians,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) in a speech on the House floor. “I’m tired of my colleagues coming up to me whispering, ‘I don’t really like Netanyahu.’ Well then why are we sending him billions of dollars with no conditions? He literally is telling us over and over again what his intention is…. He never wants to see a Palestinian state.”
“If you don’t support Netanyahu, if you’re disgusted by the videos of countless lifeless children pulled out of the rubble, if you actually believe in upholding human rights and international law, vote ‘no’ on a blank check to Netanyahu’s genocide,” Tlaib continued.
Progressives have continually spoken out against the efforts to send Israel billions more in military assistance on top of the billions the U.S. already sends to Israel each year. The effort to oppose such funding has expanded beyond the “Squad,” with figures like Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) and progressive Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Illinois) also speaking out against the funding on Tuesday.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) said that it is unconscionable to use taxpayer money to fund Israel’s atrocities as U.S. citizens struggle to survive.
“This is not war. This is slaughter,” Ocasio-Cortez said ahead of the vote. “The United States has our own requirements outlawing the transfer of weapons to forces engaged in gross human rights violations. We have a responsibility to honor those laws, to facilitate a bilateral ceasefire, to move to end this campaign of mass casualty and loss of life that risks bringing the entire region to a wider, deadlier conflict.”
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) called on Congress to pass her ceasefire legislation rather than hand more funds to Israel.
“With over 27,000 Palestinians killed, and after the preliminary ruling from the International Court of Justice on potential violations of the Genocide Convention, it is unconscionable for the United States government to spend billions of dollars to continue enabling mass atrocities,” Bush said in a statement. “Instead of flouting domestic and international law in support of the continued killing of children, hostages, and other innocent people, we should be prioritizing the needs of our communities.”
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