Senate Democrats are expressing strong indignation over the Biden administration’s decision to deliver weapons to Israel without seeking prior approval from Congress, despite their apprehensions regarding the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken notified Congress on Friday about the department’s second urgent decision to fund equipment transactions amounting to more than $147.5 million. The Defense Department’s notification states that the Israeli military has already obtained new fuses and charges for the 155-millimeter projectiles.
In a statement, Blinken pointed out that “Given the urgency of Israel’s defensive needs, the secretary notified Congress that he had exercised his delegated authority to determine an emergency existed, necessitating the immediate approval of the transfer.”
The emergency decree grants the government headed by Biden the ability to bypass the standard legislative scrutiny process for foreign arms sales.
Nevertheless, this marks the second instance in which the Biden administration has authorized an emergency arms sale to Israel within a span of less than a month, bypassing the need for legislative approval. Blinken recently exerted the same kind of power on December 9th, when the government authorized an additional $106.5 million for the purchase of tank munitions.
The consecutive proclamations of emergency in Israel brought about fresh criticism from Senate Democrats, who have voiced apprehension regarding the Israeli military’s failure to implement the essential measures to avert civilian casualties in Gaza. The number of fatalities in Gaza, as reported by the health ministry under Hamas, has now exceeded 21,000.
Nevertheless, Senate Democrats explicitly criticized the State Department’s authorization process, arguing that the Biden administration’s use of the emergency proclamation to approve foreign arms funding eliminates a crucial oversight mechanism for the chief executive’s office.
“Unnecessarily bypassing Congress means keeping the American people in the dark. We need a public explanation of the rationale behind this decision — the second such decision this month,” stated Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) in an interview with Punchbowl News.
In a press release on Sunday, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) criticized the Biden administration’s choice of removing the legislative branch from the process of deciding for foreign military sales, stating that it “undermines transparency and weakens accountability.”
Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) remarked that the weapons supplied to Israel had “been used to devastating effect in Gaza, contributing to the death and injury of countless civilians and the displacement of an estimated 2 million people.”
“The war in Gaza has generated immense controversy and concern in the United States and around the world. The president should follow the established procedure of submitting his arms sales recommendations to Congress for prior approval.” stated Welch.
The outrage arises as Senate Democrats have advocated for explicit limitations to be imposed on US military assistance, such as mandating that recipient countries adhere to international norms governing armed conflicts.
Biden’s pledge to provide more than $106 billion in foreign military assistance to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and Indo-Pacific countries is now delayed in the Senate owing to differences on a much-needed US/Mexico border protection deal.
According to University of Maryland Critical Issues Polls, conducted soon following the Hamas terror attack and four weeks later, “during a period when national and international attention had shifted to Israel’s subsequent attacks in the Gaza Strip, shows that Israel has lost much of that early support, especially among Democrats.”
“Change among young Democrats has been particularly notable: They are now twice as likely to view President Joe Biden as “too pro-Israeli” than in October, the number of those saying they would be less likely to vote for Biden because of his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue more than doubled since October, and those who want the United States to lean toward the Palestinians have measurably increased,” according to the University poll.
“It is the deepest shift in a short period of time that I’ve seen,” stated Shibley Telhami, the Critical Issues Poll’s director.
As per a mid-November survey conducted by Quinnipiac University, “voters 18 – 34 years old, a majority (52 percent) say their sympathies lie more with the Palestinians, while 29 percent say the Israelis. This is a sharp reversal from October, when 41 percent said the Israelis and 26 percent said the Palestinians.”
“Among Democrats, a plurality (41 percent) say their sympathies lie more with the Palestinians, while 34 percent say their sympathies lie more with the Israelis. In October, nearly half of Democrats (48 percent) said the Israelis and 22 percent said the Palestinians.
An overwhelming majority of voters (72 percent) say, regardless of their overall feelings toward the Israelis and the Palestinians, Hamas is more responsible for the outbreak of violence in the Middle East, while 14 percent say Israel is more responsible.”
Based on the latest poll conducted by NBC, 70% of those between the ages of 18 and 34 expressed their disapproval of Biden’s management of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Based on recent research conducted by Pew, a mere 19% of individuals in the United States who are under the age of 30 express approval towards Biden’s conduct.