House approves another $17 billion for Israel – Mondoweiss

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On April 20 the House of Representatives passed a $95 billion legislative package that includes foreign aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. The final vote was 366-58, with 37 Democrats and 21 GOP voting against it.

As a result of the legislation, Israel gets an additional $17 billion in military aid without conditions. The bill does allot over $9 million in humanitarian assistance for the region but prohibits funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) over unproven allegations of terrorism recently made by the Israeli government.

Nearly 35,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its assault on Gaza last October.

Republican opposition to the bill is connected to the internal party squabbles over Ukraine, the border security bill, and House Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) cooperation with Democrats. However, the Democratic NO votes symbolize a deepening rift within the party over Israel.

“The Squad” and other progressive members of the House pushed their colleagues to oppose the legislation in an effort to send the Biden administration a message on message. “We’ve seen how Netanyahu’s government has used American weapons to kill indiscriminately and create famine,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) in a speech on the House floor. “…Are going to participate in that carnage or not? I choose not to.”

“We find ourselves at a dangerous and pivotal moment in the history of our country and world. It is imperative that we invest in diplomacy, democracy, and peacebuilding, rather than death, destruction, and mass human suffering,” said Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) in a statement. “Congress must shift its focus from funding warfare and neglecting our own people to prioritizing peace efforts, protecting human rights for all people, and investing in life-saving programs and services for our communities. I will continue to champion these priorities, and push for a world free from war, tyranny, poverty, disease, persecution, and exploitation.”

Democratic Reps. Becca Balint (D-VT), Don Beyer (D-VA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), Andre Carson (R-IN), Greg Casar (D-TX), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-WA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Maxwell Frost (D-FL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Al Green (D-TX), Jonathan Jackson (D-IL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Summer Lee (D-PA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Delia Ramirez (D-IL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Mark Takano (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Jill Tokuda (D-HI), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) all voted against the bill.

Many of those who voted against the legislation, like Rep. Ro Khanna, have consistently supported pro-Israel legislation in the past. “I understand the need for defensive weapons for Israel, particularly in light of the attack by Iran,” Khanna told the New York Times. “But there is no justification to provide bombs and weapons to Netanyahu to continue the war in Gaza that is killing thousands of innocent Palestinian women and children.”

“The historic number of Democrats who voted ‘no’ today have taken a stand for humanity and human rights,” said Jewish Voice for Peace Action Political Director Beth Miller. “Their votes reflect the desire of the overwhelming majority of their base – including American Jews – who do not want our tax dollars to fund genocide.”

The aid package will now move to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass easily on Tuesday, before making its way to the President’s desk. Biden has publicly stated he will sign the legislation.

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