Republicans Aim To Put Biden on His Heels on Israel With Vote To Force Release of Arms

One congressman who has already introduced articles of impeachment against the president says he has engaged in a ‘quid pro quo’ for political purposes in withholding aid.

AP
President Biden on March 8, 2024, at Wallingford, Pennsylvania, and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Tel Aviv, October 28, 2023. AP

President Biden’s decision to withhold thousands of bombs from Israel — despite those weapons being designated for the Jewish state by Congress — brings a new threat to the commander-in-chief: impeachment. A vote on a bill that would require him to send the aid immediately is expected to win the support of dozens of House Democrats this week. 

Mr. Biden announced in an interview with CNN that, “We’re not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells used” if the Israel Defense Forces went into Rafah. Now that the hunt for Hamas leadership in the southern city has begun, the president has decided to withhold 3,500 bombs from Israel that were designated by Congress for delivery — an act that some argue is an impeachable offense. 

One House Republican has already introduced articles of impeachment against the president for his decision to withhold the aid, saying that Mr. Biden’s decision is based on politics. That congressman, Cory Mills, argues that Democrats set a precedent for impeachment on the grounds of withholding foreign aid for military purposes when they impeached President Trump for asking Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden in exchange for arms. 

“In violation of his oath to faithfully execute the office of President and to uphold the Constitution, President Biden abused the powers of his office by soliciting a ‘quid pro quo’ with Israel while leveraging vital military aid for policy changes,” Mr. Mills says in a statement. “This egregious action not only compromised the credibility of the United States but also undermined the interests of our longstanding ally, Israel.”

The congressman says the president is not withholding aid because of concerns about military strategy or tactics — he’s doing it because he wants to win Michigan in November, which has been a hotbed for anti-Israel protests by young people, liberal Democrats, Muslim Americans, and Arab-Americans. 

The basis for such an impeachment inquiry would be similar to the first impeachment of President Trump, who became just the third president in history to be impeached in 2019 for withholding military aid for Ukraine in exchange for President Zelenskyy opening an investigation into Hunter Biden. 

Democrats at the time argued that the then-president violated the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which prohibits presidents from indefinitely holding on to congressionally approved funds. Mr. Trump’s administration was found to have violated the ICA in 2020, when the Government Accountability Office released a report finding that withholding aid to Ukraine was done improperly. 

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. [Office of Management and Budget] withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act,” the GAO wrote in January 2020. 

The ICA requires that the president submit to Congress a letter explaining the withholding of federal funds, including foreign and military aid. Mr. Biden has 45 legislative or “working” days, meaning when Congress is in session, to provide answers about why the spending was withheld. In a 2018 legal opinion, the GAO ruled that the 45-day period is the only “limited” circumstance in which the president is allowed to withhold funds. Money or arms cannot be suspended indefinitely. 

On Tuesday evening, the House Rules Committee will consider a bill that is aimed to force Mr. Biden to release the funds immediately. It is expected to pass, setting up a floor vote on either Wednesday or Thursday. 

Beyond a potential impeachment inquiry that would go nowhere in the Senate, Mr. Biden is risking his political future among Jewish voters in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona by leaving Israel in the lurch. 

In April, a prominent Jewish leader in New York, Rabbi Ammi Hirsch warned during an address to his congregation that the president shouldn’t just be concerned about left-wing protesters in Michigan, but he should be concerned about paying a price for abandoning Israel when Jewish voters in key swing states go to the polls in November. 

“Do not take American Jews for granted,” Rabbi Hirsch warned. “I have spoken with so many American Jews in the past few months who have surprised me with their anxiety about developments in the Democratic Party and their perception that it is becoming increasingly hostile to Israel and increasingly tolerant of anti-Zionism and antisemitism in its own ranks. Be careful. The results of the upcoming election do not only depend on Michigan.”


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