Johnson rebukes Biden, Schumer over blocked Israel aid as House votes to force bomb deliveries

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House Speaker Mike Johnson on Thursday hammered President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., over blocked U.S. military aid for Israel with the House expected to vote on a bill to force bomb deliveries to the Jewish state amid its war against Hamas.

On the steps of the Capitol, Johnson also drew a parallel to Biden’s decision earlier Thursday to assert executive privilege to block House committees from obtaining subpoenaed audio recordings of his interview with former special counsel Robert Hur over classified documents found in the president’s possession. 

‘Rather than defend our closest ally at war, President Biden is using his authority to defend himself politically,’ Johnson said.  ‘Just as President Biden defies the will of Congress with his use of executive privilege, he is brazenly doing so by withholding congressionally mandated aid. Just last month, Sen. Chuck Schumer declared from the Senate floor — this is his quote, ‘The House must rush to Israel’s aid … as quickly as humanly possible.’ 

‘Well, today, Sen. Schumer has done an about-face. He’s reversed course. Yet again, it is President Biden and Sen. Schumer himself who are standing in the way of getting Israel the resources it desperately needs to defend itself. The House has tried multiple times to deliver this much needed aid to Israel, and each and every time. Now, Biden and Schumer have opposed it.’ 

The press conference happened before the House was set Thursday to deliver a rebuke to Biden for pausing a shipment of bombs to Israel, voting on legislation that would seek to force the weapons transfer as Republicans worked to highlight Democratic divisions over the Israel-Hamas war.

Just weeks after Congress passed the national security supplemental, which included $26 billion for Israel, Johnson accused the Biden administration of ‘defying the will of Congress and withholding weapons shipments to Israel,’ claiming that this ‘is a catastrophic decision with global implications’ that is being handled ‘as a political calculation.’

The speaker said the House ‘will be voting on legislation to compel the delivery of defense weapons to Israel as they fight to protect themselves from radical terrorists and defend their very existence as a nation.’ 

‘But Joe Biden is threatening to veto that legislation, and Chuck Schumer is suggesting now that he refuses to bring it to the Senate floor,’ Johnson said. ‘On Oct. 7, Hamas, the radical terrorists, which are proxies for Iran, lit a fire in Israel, the proverbial fire that is still burning. And Biden and Schumer are telling Israel that they are only really allowed to put out part of that fire. That is just simply not going to work. Israel needs to finish the job, and America needs to help Israel extinguish the flame of terror that is wrought by Hamas.’ 

Seeking to discourage Israel from its offensive on the crowded southern Gazan city of Rafah, the Biden administration this month put on hold a weapons shipment of 3,500 bombs — some as large as 2,000 pounds — capable of killing hundreds in populated areas. Republicans were outraged, accusing Biden of abandoning the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East.

The bill condemns Biden for initiating the pause on the bomb shipment and would withhold funding for the State Department, Department of Defense and the National Security Council until the delivery is made. Schumer said should the legislation pass the House, it would not receive floor time in the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority, telling reporters earlier this week, ‘It’s not going anywhere.’ 

Even if the legislation passes Congress, the White House said Biden would veto it. 

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., argued that while Biden is ‘impeding the ability for Israel to defend themselves, Iran is not holding back.’ 

He noted that Tehran fired over 300 drones and missiles into Israel, and Hamas still holds more than 130 hostages, including Americans.

‘Where is President Biden caring about the lives of those American citizens that are being held hostage right now in tunnels under Gaza?’ Scalise said. ‘President Biden is supporting Hamas’ position against Israel. This is disgusting. When this bill passes with a bipartisan vote today through the House, the public pressure will grow so large that Chuck Schumer will have to take this bill up. And if this bill does pass the Senate, like some other bills that President Biden threatened to veto, that he ultimately signed because the public finally had enough. This is one of those cases.’ 

Debate over the bill, rushed to the House floor by GOP leadership this week, showed Washington’s deeply fractured outlook on the Israel-Hamas war.  

The White House and Democratic leadership have scrambled to rally support from a House caucus that ranges from moderates frustrated that the president would allow any daylight between the U.S. and Israel to progressives outraged that he is still sending any weapons at all.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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