May 23, 2024

This week was originally intended to be “Appliance Week” for House Republicans. The plan was to push bills aimed at reducing regulations on household appliances.

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Then, Iran launched an attack against Israel on Saturday, pushing the GOP to postpone these initiatives as it looks at legislation related to the two countries. Now, Congress will consider a myriad of bills targeting Iran while also supporting Israel. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is also under pressure to not only pass legislation for the Jewish State but also to appease those seeking to sneak in more aid for Ukraine as well.

House Republicans have lined up a slate of bills targeting Iran and showing support for Israel, but the exact path forward for aid to Israel remains unclear as Congress remains divided over the issue in the wake of Iran’s unprecedented retaliatory strikes on Israel.

In the aftermath of the attack, Democrats have called on Speaker Mike Johnson to bring up a Senate-passed foreign aid package that includes aid to Israel and Ukraine, but hardline conservatives have urged Johnson against attaching Ukraine funding to any Israel aid package – a warning that comes as the Louisiana Republican faces the threat of a potential vote to oust him from his leadership post.

In the meantime, House Republicans have announced that a series of pro-Israel and anti-Iran bills will be taken up, including a measure condemning the attack by Iran and affirming that lawmakers stand with Israel and support its right to respond to Iranian aggression.

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Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) on Sunday evening told The Jerusalem Post that “talks are ongoing” when it comes to Israel aid.

The lawmaker asserted that it is “important with all the noise coming out of the White House that Congress make a strong stand, that we support our friend and ally Israel during times that they’re under attack.” He also slammed the Biden administration for relaxing “a number of sanctions.”

The slew of bills would require the United States to impose further sanctions on Iran while also targeting terrorist groups like Hamas. One measure would also designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. Another would deem the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” as being antisemitic.

Zoom in: Another measure appears to break with Biden’s entreaty to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he not retaliate militarily against Iran.

The three-page resolution introduced by Rep. Tom Kean (R-N.J.) declares that the House “stands with Israel as it … seeks to re-establish deterrence against Iran and its proxies.”

It would also affirm Israel’s “right to respond to this aggression through military, diplomatic, economic, and other necessary means.”

What they’re saying: The bills are meant to “demonstrate our support of Israel and take action against Iran,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said in a statement.

“These bills … represent a comprehensive response to the Iranian threat by supporting Israel’s response to the attack and sanctioning Iran’s leaders, cutting off their revenue sources, and targeting their partners and terrorist proxies,” he added.

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What could complicate the matter are efforts to push aid to Ukraine and Taiwan in legislation intended for Israel. For conservative members of Congress, this will likely be a no-go. There could also be pitfalls related to bills that target Iran for sanctions and condemnation. Democrats are sure to push back on many of these proposed measures, following the lead of President Biden, who has taken a softer approach to Iran. However it shakes out, this week could be pivotal in determining U.S. policy in the Middle East.

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