Democrats Divided as Progressives in Congress Blast Israel for Battling Hamas in Gaza
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WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives passed a measure on aid for Israel Thursday night. The vote came amid a growing split among Democratic politicians, and voters, over support for Israel.
Some progressive Democrat lawmakers are criticizing the Israeli effort to battle Hamas in Gaza and they're calling for a ceasefire. Those actions are already coming with political ramifications.
Michigan Democrat and Congress' only Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib's rhetoric and participation in a recent pro-Gaza rally at the Capitol has been met with swift backlash.
"The warmongers are out, y'all. They are ready. They want to kill and not stop, it's pure insanity," Rep. Tlaib told the protestors.
Her comments have been met with condemnation from members of her own party. On the other side, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) failed in a censure vote on the House floor.
Tlaib is now also seeing attack ads in her Congressional district, including one from the Democratic Majority for Israel slamming her stance on the war.
Missouri Democrat Cori Bush, another member of the progressive "Squad," has also spoken out against the Israeli response. She posted on social media, "We can't be silent about Israel's ethnic cleansing campaign." The post was rejected by the leader of her own party.
"Israel is not conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign, Israel is not engaged in genocide, Israel was brutally attacked in the most horrific way on October 7th. It has resulted in the largest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust. Israel is in a position where it is responding and going after Hamas. That is a necessary and urgent project for it to complete. At the same time we are of course going to make sure we are providing the humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians who may be in harm's way," Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said during a CNN interview.
Both House members could end up facing primary challengers because of their actions with a Democrat political action committee looking to potentially back opponents.
While President Biden has stood firmly behind Israel, the progressive divide comes as Congress weighs military defense packages.
Thursday, the House took up a $14.3 billion aid bill, with the GOP seeking to offset the Israel funding by rescinding money to the IRS.
"It's been kind of disturbing to us, we've heard some Democrats say there needs to be a ceasefire. Let us be clear, we've been very clear about this. There was a ceasefire, it was before October 7th, Hamas broke it. And Israelis suffered unspeakable acts of evil as you've heard recounted here this morning. Israel doesn't need a ceasefire, it needs its allies to cease with the politics and deliver support now," said House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).
Analysis by the Congressional Budget Office determined lost revenue by the IRS cuts would actually add to the national debt over the next 10 years. The Democrat-led Senate will likely pair Israel and Ukraine aid. House Democrats want defensive support for Israel with no strings attached.
"That's why this House should send a clean bill to the Senate. Instead, Speaker Johnson is willingly jeopardizing Israel's security by making support for Israeli assistance contingent on issues totally unrelated to its security. He's taken an unprecedented step and one with potentially fatal consequences," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) on the House floor.
Twelve Democrats defied leadership and helped the Israel aid bill pass the House, underscoring how politically tricky the whole situation is. Although some openly criticized the IRS cut, Florida Democrat Jared Moskowitz admitted he could see the political mailers saying "you voted for the IRS over Israel" and he wouldn't take the bait.
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