Red State

Senator Tom Cotton Introduces Bill to Force Continued Arms Sales to Israel

By Ward Clark

On Tuesday, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced a bill to force the Biden administration to resume providing arms and munitions to Israel in support of their ongoing war against Hamas terrorists. The bill already has a counterpart bill in the House of Representatives.

Cotton introduced a Senate version of a bill currently circulating in the House that would bypass the Biden administration’s pause in arms sales to Israel, which the White House has been aggressively lobbying against. House Democrats in the narrowly controlled GOP House are fighting to kill the bill, and Cotton’s Senate version is likely to initiate a similar fight in the upper chamber.

Like the House version, the bill would force the Biden administration to complete all scheduled arms deliveries to Israel and blow past a pause in key munitions that the White House says is necessary to force Israel into abandoning its planned incursion into the Gaza Strip’s Rafah neighborhood. Cotton’s bill would also cancel the salaries of any Biden administration official at the Pentagon or State Department who engages in any effort to withhold arms shipments to Israel.

The bill is cosponsored by 20 of Cotton's GOP colleagues, including Sens. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), Rick Scott (R., Fla.), Ted Budd (R., N.C.), Roger Marshall (R., Kan.), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R., Miss.), among others.

Note that the bill does not appear to require any additional sales or shipments, only to complete already scheduled arms deliveries to Israel, which the Biden administration has paused.

The Biden administration, of course, is adamantly opposed to the bill. Military matters are normally within the purview of the Executive branch, although the House of Representatives holds the purse strings.

The White House is lobbying against the House version of the arms bill, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre telling reporters: "We strongly, strongly oppose attempts to constrain the president’s ability to deploy a U.S. security assistance consistent with U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives."

The House bill was introduced during the weekend and already has the support of the chamber’s GOP majority. Democratic leaders in the House, however, are lobbying their members to oppose the legislation, though it is unclear if moderate Democrats will join this effort during a contested election season.

It's unlikely this bill will go anywhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate. But as this is an election year (Senator Cotton is not up for re-election until 2026) and support for Israel is a contentious issue, it's likely Senate Republicans will push the matter as far as possible. The Biden administration's support for Israel, one of the few allies the United States has in the Middle East, has been tentative at best, especially given the unrest on college campuses and states with high numbers of Middle Eastern immigrants — both of which are important Democrat constituencies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed the war against Hamas and, specifically, the Israeli Defense Forces attack on Hamas strongholds in Rafah, will go forward regardless of any support, or lack thereof, from the United States.