Progressive members of US Senate concerned over Israel aid bill

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) voted for the Senate supplemental defense bill, despite not agreeing with all of its provisions relating to Israel.  

In a statement, Van Hollen said he was disappointed the bill included a blanket ban on any funds going to UNRWA. Van Hollen introduced an amendment which would allow UNRWA funding everywhere except for Gaza, however it was never voted on. The Senator said he’d continue to fight total UNRWA bans in future legislation. 

Van Hollen noted the bill included funding for humanitarian aid for people in Gaza, Ukraine, and Sudan. 

Van Hollen said he supported funding for the Iron Dome and other defense systems, but he cannot support a blank check for the Israeli government’s current campaign in Gaza. 

Bernie Sanders responds to a question from a reporter (credit: LUCAS JACKSON / REUTERS)

Senators voice their opinions 

“While a war may be just, it must be fought justly,” Van Hollen said. “The disregard for innocent civilian life and the mounting humanitarian catastrophe are too great to turn a blind eye.”

Van Hollen praised the national security memorandum President Joe Biden issued last week, which will require countries receiving military aid from the US to prove their compliance with international law in yearly reports to Congress. 

On X, Van Hollen said the bill was the only way to support Ukraine’s fight against Putin and “it was paramount that we do so now.”

Progressive, independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also criticized US funding for Israel. Sanders voted against the package. 

Prior to the vote, Sanders called supporting Netanyahu’s war efforts “unconscionable.” 

“Over and over again, I hear the President and Members of Congress express deep concern about Netanyahu and the humanitarian disaster in Gaza that he has caused,” Sanders said on X. “Then why are they supporting giving Netanyahu another $10 billion to continue his war against the Palestinian people?”

Vermont Sen. Peter Welch and Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley were the only two Democrats who voted against the bill. 

If House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) brings the Senate’s bill to the House floor for a vote, it’s unclear how the Democratic party’s progressive members will vote. 

On Tuesday afternoon, President Joe Biden said he expects the bill to pass the House if it’s brought to the floor. 

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