Pressure mounts on US lawmakers to approve new aid for Israel

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Iran’s attack on Israel has increased pressure on the US Congress to pass additional military aid for Israel, with Republicans saying they will call a vote in the House of Representatives in the coming days.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby urged the Republican-led House to pass a bipartisan Senate bill providing $95bn in aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan. Republicans including former president Donald Trump have blocked the funding because of their opposition to continued US support for Kyiv in its war with Russia.

“They should put it on the floor as soon as possible,” Kirby told NBC. “Last night certainly underscores significantly the threat that Israel faces in a very, very tough neighbourhood.

“The votes are there. We’re just looking for leadership out of the Speaker’s office.”

In a statement, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the bill would “provide critical resources to Israel and our own military forces in the region,” “overdue lethal assistance to Ukraine and equip vulnerable allies and partners in Asia to deter” China and “make urgent investments in our own defence industrial base”.

For months, House Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to put the Senate bill up for a vote in the face of opposition from Trump, the party’s presumed presidential nominee. But the Iranian attack on Israel, and Russia’s advance into Ukraine, could spur Congress to pass a broad foreign aid package soon.

Johnson said on Fox that he and Trump are “100% united on these big agenda items,” saying the former president and GOP presidential candidate “introduced” a loan-lease concept to support Ukraine with conditions. The Speaker also said the US should seize “assets of corrupt Russian oligarchs to help pay for this resistance”.

“So the House Republicans and the Republican Party understand the necessity of standing with Israel. We’re going to try again this week, and the details of that package are being put together right now,” said Johnson.

The issue of funding for Ukraine has been a sticking point as US domestic support for Kyiv, mainly among Republicans, has faded as the war drags on.

Michael McCaul, the House foreign affairs chair, said on CBS that he needed to “educate” his Republican colleagues that the threats against Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan are “all tied together” — and urged the House leadership to bring a bill to the floor.

Mike Turner, the House Intelligence Committee chair, said on NBC that he expects the House to pass legislation, noting that Russia has started “to gain ground” in its war against Ukraine.

“I think it will have overwhelming support . . . not just because of what’s happened with Iran escalating the conflict in the Middle East, but because these are allies that need and deserve our support,” said Turner.

One of the leaders of the Republican resistance against further Ukraine funding, Ohio senator JD Vance, said on CNN that the Senate should pass a House bill that would only help Israel, saying: “I think Israel is much more important to the United States than Ukraine is.”

“It’s not about the money again, it’s about the weapons,” said Vance. “If you don’t make enough weapons to fight three wars, you’ve got to figure out how to focus — and my proposal is we focus on ourselves and we focus on our closest allies.”

Biden has been under pressure from some parts of the Democratic Party to condition or withhold aid to Israel as outrage has grown at the high number of civilian casualties in Gaza caused by the Israeli retaliation against Hamas.

But administration officials have feared what kind of message that would send to Iran as tensions between Tehran and Israel have flared.

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