Democrats Want to Limit Joe Biden’s Power

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Amid the Israel-Hamas war, Senate Democrats on Tuesday are aiming to limit President Joe Biden from bypassing Congress when approving weapons sales to Israel.

The text of a much-hyped $118 billion bipartisan Senate bill was released on Sunday that introduced what would be the most substantial border security reforms in years, alongside aid packages for Ukraine and Israel.

Overall, the proposed bill would allot $20 billion for border funding, $60 billion in Ukraine aid, $14 billion for Israel, $9.2 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza civilians, and $4.83 billion for Indo-Pacific nations.

On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia is set to introduce an amendment, that if passed, would remove language in the $118 billion bill allowing for the administration to send any future arms sales to Israel without notifying Congress first.

Sen. TIm Kaine on January 25, 2024, in Washington D.C. Amid the Israel-Hamas war, Senate Democrats on Tuesday are aiming to limit President Joe Biden from bypassing Congress when approving weapons sales to Israel.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

“Congress and the American people deserve full transparency about military assistance to all nations. No president of any party should bypass Congress on issues of war, peace, and diplomacy,” Kaine said in an email to Newsweek.

“That’s why I’m introducing a commonsense amendment, backed by dozens of my Senate colleagues, to ensure that we maintain full congressional oversight for U.S. aid to Israel, just as we do for every other nation we support

Newsweek has reached out to the White House via email for comment.

“Like any compromise, this legislation isn’t perfect. While I support aid to help Ukraine and Israel defend themselves and to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, I’m disappointed this legislation waives long-standing requirements to notify Congress about U.S. military assistance to Israel,” Kaine added.

The proposed amendment, which has the backing from the majority of the Senate Democratic caucus, the chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Intelligence committees, comes after Biden went around lawmakers twice in December to send more than $250 million of weaponry to Israel.

Since the October 7 attack, 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, the AP reported, citing the Israeli government, and more than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Biden announced that the U.S. would stand with Israel during the conflict and pledged to send the country a trove of military equipment and weapons, including U.S.-made Tamir interceptor missiles, a key component of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.

However, bypassing Congress with emergency determinations for arms sales is an unusual step. Historically, lawmakers normally have a period of at least 15 to 30 days to weigh in on proposed weapon transfers and, in some cases, block them.

The Biden administration previously justified the recent sales by citing emergency determinations.

The Defense Department said in a statement in December that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had “determined and provided detailed justification to Congress that an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale” to Israel, which waived “the Congressional review requirements” needed for selling defense equipment to other countries.