Biden Admin Hid Pause in Arms Sales to Israel From Congress, Sparking Probe

Senators want to know what types of ammunition are being withheld from Israel and why

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May 7, 2024

The Biden administration hid information about its decision to pause U.S. arms sales to Israel from Congress, sparking a probe led by two GOP senators, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Senators Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) and Ted Budd (R., N.C.), in a letter sent Monday evening to the White House, are asking the administration to immediately inform Congress about what types of ammunition are being withheld from Israel and why. The pause in these ammo shipments was approved last week, but only became publicly known over the weekend when the decision was leaked to Axios. The Biden administration is holding up shipments of two types of Boeing-made precision bombs to send a political message to Israel, one U.S. official told Politico.

"We are shocked that your administration has reportedly decided to withhold critical ammunition to Israel," the senators wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Free Beacon. "You promised your commitment to Israel was ironclad. Pausing much-needed military support to our closest Middle Eastern ally signals otherwise."

The senators say the White House "failed to notify Congress about this decision," leaving lawmakers to learn of the decision from press reports. The letter signals mounting GOP concern with the Biden administration’s increasingly hostile stance toward Israel as it launches an offensive campaign into the Gaza Strip’s Rafah neighborhood, which the United States has lobbied against. The reported halt in ammunition sales is being viewed as a sign the Biden administration is caving to pressure from anti-Israel advocates in the Democratic Party who want to see the Jewish state isolated.

"We must give Israel the arms it needs to fight the Hamas terrorists that continue to hold Americans hostage," Ernst and Budd wrote. "We call on your administration to immediately restart the weapons shipments to Israel today as it continues to fight Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other Iran-backed threats."

Congress recently passed an emergency national security funding bill that included military assistance for Israel. The lawmakers want to know if any of the ammunition shipments approved in that bill have been put on ice as result of the White House’s embargo.

"Which ammunition did your administration withhold from Israel?" the senators ask. "Why did your administration decide to withhold this ammunition? Did the administration withhold any ammunition that was approved by Congress in the recent national security supplemental? Does your administration have any plans to withhold further assistance from Israel?"

The letter also asks the administration to explain its conflicting statements about maintaining robust American support to Israel as it fights to eradicate Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

"On April 24, you signed the national security supplemental into law and promised that you ‘will always make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Iran and terrorists it supports,’" the senators wrote. "If these reports are true, then you have once again broken your promise to an American ally."

Ernst and Budd are requesting the Biden administration explain how its "decision to withhold security assistance from Israel is consistent" with previous statements promising unconditional military assistance.

"Why did your administration fail to notify Congress about this decision to withhold assistance to Israel?" they ask. "If your administration decides to withhold further assistance to Israel, would you commit to communicating such a decision to Congress beforehand?"