House rejects standalone Israel aid bill amid progressive opposition and humanitarian concerns

The failure of the Israel aid bill in the House came amidst broader legislative struggles to pass critical foreign aid.

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The U.S. House on Tuesday failed to pass a standalone military aid package for Israel, facing strong opposition from members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who criticized the proposed $17.6 billion in unconditional assistance. The legislation, which President Joe Biden had indicated he would veto, required a two-thirds majority to pass under a suspension of the rules but fell short with a vote of 250 to 180, seeing 166 Democrats and 14 Republicans opposing the measure.

Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.) stated that she could not, under any circumstances, support the bill, citing the ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis in Gaza. “The death toll in Gaza continues to rise. Gazans are starving,” Ramirez said, emphasizing the need for a change in course. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) echoed these sentiments, arguing that the bill amounted to a “blank check for [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu” and his administration, which has been accused of committing genocide in Gaza.

The failure of the Israel aid bill in the House came amidst broader legislative struggles to pass critical foreign aid. The proposed aid was part of a larger effort to provide assistance not only to Israel but also to Ukraine, in a package that included a border agreement aimed at weakening asylum protections. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) criticized the House Republicans for their disconnection from the people and for engaging in political stunts rather than addressing substantive issues.

Senate Republicans are expected to block the comprehensive security package, largely due to disagreements over the border agreement, aligning with former President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration and asylum rights. The broader package, supported by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, seeks to combine aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan with necessary border security changes.

Progressives have voiced concerns over providing military aid without addressing humanitarian needs in Gaza and imposing conditions on the assistance. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, highlighted the absence of Ukraine aid in the standalone bill and criticized it as an attempt by House Speaker Mike Johnson to shift the discussion away from pressing humanitarian issues.

The next steps for passing foreign aid remain uncertain, with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) suggesting a combination of Israel and Ukraine aid along with measures to counter China. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reaffirmed the need to move aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan alongside border security changes, reflecting the complex legislative landscape surrounding U.S. foreign assistance.

In light of these developments, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called for individual votes on foreign aid bills, emphasizing the need to include humanitarian aid for Gaza to ensure a comprehensive approach to resolving the crisis.

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Alexis Sterling is a seasoned War and Human Rights Reporter with a passion for reporting the truth in some of the world's most tumultuous regions. With a background in journalism and a keen interest in international affairs, Alexis's reporting is grounded in a commitment to human rights and a deep understanding of the complexities of global conflicts. Her work seeks to give voice to the voiceless and bring to light the human stories behind the headlines. Alexis is dedicated to responsible and engaged journalism, constantly striving to inform and educate the public on critical issues of war and human rights across the globe.

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