Democrats are raising concerns over Biden’s response to Israel’s war in Gaza and blasting the administration for transferring weapons to Israel without congressional approval.
In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 19 Democrats blasted the administration’s decision to repeatedly use emergency authorities to ‘circumvent congressional review.’
The lawmakers wrote that they ‘shared the world’s horror’ at Hamas over the terrorist attack on October 7, but they were also ‘deeply disturbed’ by Israel’s response.
It’s the latest action by Democrats who have been growing increasingly critical of the Biden administration’s response to Israel’s war in Gaza.
‘It is highly unusual for the president to bypass congressional oversight through an emergency declaration,’ the letter reads.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts led a coalition of lawmakers seeking information from the Biden administration on the US response to Israel’s war in Gaza
Secretary of State Antony Blinken meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel on January 9, 2024
It states such authority has only been used 18 times in nearly 50 years, but the Biden administration has used the authority twice in a single month.
‘It is essential for Congress to be able to conduct oversight of these arms transfers and determine whether they are consistent with humanitarian principles and U.S. law, and whether they advance or harm U.S. national security,’ the lawmakers wrote.
More than 22,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict since the October 7 attack on Israel and more than 65,000 Palestinians have been injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.
The letter, dated January 26, was signed by nineteen lawmakers including Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont as well as Congresswomen Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Maxine Waters of California.
The lawmakers reference the Arms Export Control Act which requires the State Department notify Congress of major arms sales and states the review can only be waived if Congress is notified an emergency exists.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Congresswoman Jayapal of Washington are among the 19 lawmakers who sent a letter to Blinken on arms deal
Search and rescue efforts in Gaza after an Israeli airstrike on January 29, 2024
‘We appreciate that your administration has repeatedly urged the Israeli government to take additional steps to reduce civilian casualties,’ the lawmakers wrote.
‘However, we are concerned that these transfers and the administration’s evasion of congressional oversight may be inconsistent with broader U.S. foreign policy goals.’
They are demanding the Biden administration provide its rationale for determining an ’emergency’ exists to make the immediate transfers to Israel.
They have also asked why the administration believes Israel needs 155mm artillery ammunition, such as those approved in December, which organizations have warned pose a serious risk to civilians and whether the U.S. will provide Israeli forces with capabilities to further mitigate civilian harm.
The lawmakers have asked the Biden administration to provide a response to those questions and others by February 9.
The letter comes as Biden is reportedly considering using weapons sales as a means to convince Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to scale back their attack on the Gaza Strip.
Sources told NBC News that the Pentagon has been directed by the Biden administration to review what weaponry Israel has requested that could be used as leverage to scale down their military attack on Gaza.
It is also reported Biden has privately told Netanyahu he won’t support Israel’s war in Gaza lasting a year.