The U.S. took another step toward supporting Israel’s ongoing conflict in Gaza, as the House passed a bill to allocate more aid to the U.S. ally in a 366-58 vote Saturday.

The bill allocates some $26.4 billion to Israel, including for support of the nation’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems. The legislation also includes over $9 billion in international humanitarian aid and refugee assistance, with some intended for Gaza.

The aid is part of a multibillion-dollar package that rolls together aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as a push to force the social media company TikTok to have an American company oversee its operations. The votes on aid to Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as the TikTok divestiture, had taken place earlier in the day and all passed.

However, the vote on aid to Israel was not without controversy, as 37 Democrats voted against it — a sign of how many members of their party are increasingly uncomfortable with or outright opposed to President Joe Biden’s largely unflinching support for the actions of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

While there is still strong bipartisan support in Congress for Israel, a longtime U.S. ally, the subject of aid for its ongoing military campaign in Gaza has divided the Democratic Party and the American public. Israel’s campaign, launched in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed over 1,100 people, has so far killed over 34,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children. Meanwhile, Israeli restrictions on humanitarian access to the territory, which has some 2 million residents, have contributed to what experts warn is widening famine in the region.

The scale of devastation in Gaza has prompted large protests on the left, with demonstrators and progressive groups urging Biden to put humanitarian conditions on any aid that is given.

Ahead of the vote, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said he would not vote for the bill.

“All of us have seen the tragedy in Gaza. We have seen how Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government has used American weapons to kill indiscriminately, to force famine. Over 25,000 women and children dead. Tens of thousands of missiles and bombs levied on innocent civilians. We cannot escape what we see before us every day,” he said in remarks ahead of the vote. “And when we see it, we have to decide what we’re going to do about it. Are we going to participate in that carnage or not? I choose not to.”

Following the vote, a group of 19 Democrats who had voted against the aid released a joint statement on their opposition to the bill and calling on the U.S. to help Israel find “a path to win the peace.”

“Our votes against [the bill] are votes against supplying more offensive weapons that could result in more killings of civilians in Rafah and elsewhere. We believe strongly in Israel’s right to self-defense and have joined colleagues previously in affirming our shared commitment,” the statement read in part. “All of us support strengthening the Iron Dome and other defense systems and we are committed to a sovereign, safe, and secure future for Israel. To protect that future, we believe the United States must help achieve a ceasefire that allows hostages to be freed, humanitarian aid to be delivered, and peace talks to begin.”

The statement’s signatories included Reps. Castro, Lloyd Doggett and Greg Casar of Texas; Mark Takano, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee and Judy Chu of California; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nydia Velázquez of New York; Chuy Garcia and Jonathan Jackson of Illinois; Pramila Jayapal of Washington; Becca Balint of Vermont, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts; Earl Blumenauer of Oregon; Hank Johnson of Georgia; André Carson of Indiana; Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey; and Jill Tokuda of Hawaii.

The vote also follows an increase in tensions in the region, including an exchange of strikes between Israel and Iran, that has raised the threat of the conflict spilling out into a broader war. While the U.S. has publicly urged deescalation, it’s uncertain if or how the U.S. will use its leverage as a key ally to Israel, or how the changing international calculus will impact the situation in Gaza.

The vote’s display of dissent also comes after a rare show of bipartisanship. Earlier this week, Democrats moved to bolster House Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) push to bring aid for Ukraine — which was tied up with aid to Israel and Taiwan — to the floor for a vote in the first place.

It’s a piece of political maneuvering that has the potential to harm Johnson as much as it helps. The bipartisan effort arrived after the speaker received pressure from factions within the Republican Party, including a threat to attempt to oust him by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), to avoid a vote on aid to Ukraine.

Some Republicans, meanwhile, have already said that an effort to reach across the aisle may be even more reason to boot Johnson from the speakership.


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