Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush

U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) hold up signs as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address on March 7, 2024 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Progressives Oppose Israel Funding Advanced by US House

"Congress is shamefully choosing a failed approach of fueling genocide rather than saving Palestinian and Israeli lives," said Rep. Cori Bush.

Progressive lawmakers on Friday dissented as the Republican-controlled U.S. House advanced legislation to provide more military funding to Israel as well as Ukraine and Taiwan, with Rep. Cori Bush condemning a committee's refusal to consider an amendment aimed at securing a permanent cease-fire in Gaza.

The legislation passed a procedural hurdle in a vote of 316-94, placing votes for the separate aid packages and a bill calling for more humanitarian assistance to Gaza on the legislative agenda for Saturday.

Bush (D-Mo.) joined progressives including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in opposing the legislation, with centrist Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina also voting with the left-wing faction.

The Missouri Democrat condemned the House Rules Committee's refusal to consider an amendment she submitted along with Tlaib, which called for a lasting cease-fire, a release of all hostages in Israel and Palestine, and "diplomacy to secure self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis."

"Congress is shamefully choosing a failed approach of fueling genocide rather than saving Palestinian and Israeli lives, releasing the hostages and others arbitrarily detained, and prioritizing peace in the region," said Bush.

The funding package includes $26.4 billion for Israel, purportedly to support "its effort to defend itself against Iran and its proxies" following Iran's retaliatory drone attack on Israel this week—to which Israeli forces responded with a limited attack on Friday.

The new military aid was passed on top of more than 100 weapons transfers the Biden administration has made to Israel since October 7. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, two of the transfers were reviewed by Congress and totaled about $250 million.

"Our country spends billions of tax dollars to maintain this apartheid state and support the continued ethnic cleansing of Palestinians," said Tlaib, the only Palestinian American member of Congress, in a statement on Thursday.

Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) said she was "encouraged" that Democrats in Congress were able to secure more humanitarian aid for Gaza, where dozens of people have starved to death as Israel has blocked nearly the vast majority of aid shipments since October, but said the provisions do not "come close to meeting the desperate needs of the people in Gaza," particularly considering the United States' suspension of funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

"Americans will remember this moment," said Balint. "The United States must be firm in demanding a course correction from the Netanyahu government. Without a strong message against more offensive aid, the United States risks signaling support for an expanded offensive in Rafah, for an escalation with Iran, and for continued disregard for Palestinian life."

Omar called the funding package part of the U.S. government's "thinly veiled attempts to escalate an already very dangerous situation."

"What is needed most of all is a sober approach to de-escalation and conflict prevention," said the congresswoman. "Congress should be focused on efforts to de-escalate tensions—not inflame them."

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