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Sixteen Democrats voted in favor of Republicans’ Israel arms bill including Reps. Jared Moskowitz and Josh Gottheimer. Stefan Jeremiah/AP

House Democrats Mostly Stay in Line With Biden Over GOP’s Vote on Arms for Israel

While Democratic leaders have let members vote their conscience on Israel-related issues in the past, there was a directive to vote against Republicans’ effort to force Biden’s hand on military aid.

Democrats, even those who have voted alongside Republicans on Israel in the past, largely stuck in line with President Joe Biden as House Speaker Mike Johnson pushed a bill to force shipments of certain bombs to Israel.

The Israel Security Assistance Support Act, Republicans’ direct response to the Biden administration delaying the shipment of 3,500 large bombs and munitions to Israel, passed Thursday with largely Republican support. Sixteen Democrats voted in favor of it, including Reps. Jared Moskowitz, Josh Gottheimer and Ritchie Torres.

“It would be a much more powerful message if it would be bipartisan,” Rep. Greg Landsman said of the bill. “They chose to issue a partisan bill that had a primary goal of splitting Democrats, as opposed to helping Israel.”

Landsman voted for the bill anyway, saying he thought the “larger message” — about showing support for the United States’ relationship with Israel — is “powerful.”

Other outspoken supporters of Israel did not, however.

“As an American Jew, I am offended by the politicization and partisan manipulation of these very serious issues,” Rep. Daniel Goldman said in a statement earlier this week of the bill, saying it “mischaracterizes the President’s statements and steadfast support for Israel.”

Rep. Brad Sherman, too, called it a “pseudo pro-Israel bill” on the House floor, saying he’s working on a “better bill” to deal with the suspension of bombs.

The legislation is essentially dead on arrival to the Senate, and Biden has said he would veto it. House Democratic leadership has pushed their party to vote no on the bill.

“I mean, the intent is clear,” Democratic Rep. Jim Himes told NOTUS. “The way the Republicans are describing the bill, which is that it is the president walking away from Israel, is insane, especially on the day that the president was preparing a $1 billion package.”

At the Democratic Caucus meeting the day before the vote, Himes told colleagues that Biden was actively moving “artillery and tank ammunition” for delivery to Israel while holding back some of “the most powerful weapons we have in our armory, which has very limited use in highly urbanized environments.”

The Biden administration told Congress it was preparing a new $1 billion sale of military support to Israel on Tuesday. The package includes tank rounds, mortar rounds and new tactical vehicles, according to the Associated Press’ reporting.

The United States has withheld certain weapons out of concern about Israel’s movements toward Rafah, the densely populated city in the south of Gaza where more than 1 million displaced Palestinians are currently sheltering.

Republicans, however, have continued to attack Biden for withholding even some munitions, pointing out that the White House backed Congress’ military aid package last month. The bill is a direct response to the administration by them.

“I hate messaging bills, but I vote for a lot of them,” Rep. Blake Moore told NOTUS. “Clearly, the value in it is to put out where our position is on it.”

John T. Seward is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.