May 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

Biden Faces Bipartisan Criticism for Withholding Key Arms from Israel

May 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

Biden Faces Bipartisan Criticism for Withholding Key Arms from Israel

Latest Developments

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill expressed disapproval throughout the week regarding President Joe Biden’s decision to withhold key munitions from Israel. Biden admitted during a CNN interview on May 8 that he was intentionally withholding the weapons due to his opposition to Israel’s planned operation in Rafah against the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas. The president added that he was prepared to further restrict the supply of weaponry if Israel launches a full-scale military operation in Rafah.

Expert Analysis

“The bipartisan backlash against the White House demonstrates how far the president has over-reached in trying to hold up congressionally approved military aid for Israel. The question is now this: how far will Congress need to take this fight until the president finally puts the precision-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions on a plane to help defend our ally?” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“President Biden started this week by rightly challenging us to remember the horrors Hamas perpetrated on October 7. He ended it by seeming to disregard those horrors himself. Hamas may be degraded, but it remains operational and intent on Israel’s destruction. This war is not over, and Biden should prioritize Israel’s defense needs instead of politicizing them. If he fails, Congress has made clear it will act to hold him accountable.” — Nick Stewart, Senior Director of Government Relations at FDD Action

Republican Senators Admonish Biden

On May 9, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and 11 Republican senators introduced a resolution condemning the Biden administration’s decision and demanding that weapons shipments resume. Every other Republican senator except Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) cosponsored the resolution.

“The last thing we want to do is to reward terrorists — who violate international norms by weaponizing hospitals, mosques and schools — by blaming the victim of the terrorist attack, not the terrorists,” Graham said in a statement. “If this policy holds, terrorists will get the message loud and clear that if they exploit civilians in this manner, terrorists will get a pass and their victims will be punished.”

Democratic House Members Send Letter to Administration

On May 10, twenty-six Democrats in the House of Representatives sent a letter to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that urges the administration to reassert Biden’s earlier statements affirming Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel.

“With democracy under assault around the world, we cannot undermine our ally Israel, especially in her greatest hour of need,” stated the letter led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Jared Golden (D-ME). “America’s commitments must always be ironclad.”

“We have a duty,” the letter added, “to continue to equip Israel with the resources she needs to defend herself and crush the terrorists who also seek to do America harm, free the hostages including the Americans, continue delivering critical humanitarian aid to innocent civilians in Gaza, and to stand by our democratic allies around the world.”

House Legislation to Support Israel

On May 10, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, introduced the “Israeli Security Assistance Support Act” which will likely be voted on by the House of Representatives next week. The legislation reaffirms America’s commitment to Israel’s self-defense by prohibiting the administration from withholding, halting, reversing, or otherwise cancelling “the delivery of defense articles and defense services from the United States to Israel.” It also mandates the prompt delivery of weapons to Israel and withholds funding for the offices of the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State until they certify that these systems are being delivered. Additional measures pushing back against the Biden administration’s decision are likely to be considered by the House.  

Reports Claim U.S. Delaying Munitions to Send Message to Israel,” FDD Flash Brief                                                                                     

“Biden’s Betrayal of Israel Only Means More Civilians Will Die,” by Mark Dubowitz

How to Ensure Israel Has the Weapons It Needs,” by Bradley Bowman and Richard Golberg

Explaining the moral case for backing Israel may help Biden in Nov. elections,” by Enia Krivine


Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy