President Joe Biden Threatens to Veto ‘Unwise’ Bill on Weapons to Israel

On Tuesday, the White House said President Joe Biden would veto the Israel Security Assistance Support Act if Congress passed it and it arrived at his desk.

The House is set to vote on the legislation this week in the wake of the threat by Biden to withhold shipments of weapons to Israel. At the same time, it considered its military operation in Rafah, a city in Gaza, against Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists.

“The administration strongly opposes H.R. 8369, the Israel Security Assistance Support Act, which seeks to limit the President’s discretion to ensure that the delivery of certain defense articles and services align with U.S. foreign policy objectives,” said the White House in a Statement of Administration Policy.

“This bill would undermine the President’s ability to execute an effective foreign policy. This bill could raise serious concerns about infringement on the President’s authorities under Article II of the Constitution, including his duties as Commander-in-Chief and Chief Executive and his power to conduct foreign relations.”

The House legislation urges “expeditious delivery” of defense services and articles to Israel, reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense, and condemns the Biden administration’s decision to pause shipments to Israel. It additionally calls for funds for the Secretaries of State and Defense and the National Security Council to be withheld until defense articles are delivered to Israel.

Republican Representative Ken Calvert of California sponsored the bill in the House, and Republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and John Kennedy of Louisiana introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

“President Biden’s decision to impose a de facto arms embargo on Israel is a betrayal of one of our most important allies as it fights an existential war for survival,” said Cotton in a news release. “This bill will reverse Joe Biden’s arms embargo and withhold the salaries of officials who implement it.”

Congress passed foreign aid package for Israel and humanitarian aid for civilians last month

Last month, Congress passed a $95.3 billion foreign aid package that included $26 billion to Israel as well as humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones, including Gaza. 

The legislation had solid bipartisan support, with the portion for Israel passing 366-58 in the House and 79-18 in the Senate as part of an overall package that included aid for the Indo-Pacific region and Ukraine. 

Due to bipartisan support, it’s conceivable that enough Democrats could join GOP Congressional members to pass the legislation and send it to the President’s desk.

Joe Biden is facing significant political pressure from Muslim Americans and others opposed to the support from his administration for Israel’s military operations in Gaza following the October 7 terrorist attack in a reelection year.

“This bill is a misguided reaction to a deliberate distortion of the Administration’s approach to Israel,” said the White House. “The President has been clear: We will always ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself. Our commitment to Israel is ironclad. The AdministrationAdministration will continue to use all funds appropriated for Israel consistent with legal requirements, including in the recent supplemental, rendering this bill unnecessary and unwise.”