April 19, 2024

Congress Includes Iran Sanctions in $26 Billion Israel Aid Bill

Congress is poised to advance – with President Biden’s endorsement – a massive $26 billion Israeli military aid package that includes several billions of dollars in unrestricted offensive weaponry for Israel and expansive new sanctions on Iran.

With Israel planning a possible military incursion into Rafah opposed by the U.S. and facing no accountability for its actions in Gaza or its strikes on an Iranian diplomatic facility without informing the U.S., it is hard to think of a worse signal this sends.

The package will include four separate votes in the House of Representatives on Saturday. The first three will be military assistance for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively. The fourth, to sweeten the package for Republicans, is a hodge-podge of legislation that has been working its way through Congress. Most concerningly, this includes expansive sanctions on Iran with extremely limited waiver authorities for the president. After the votes, the House of Representatives will package the bills together and send them on to the Senate for a final vote.

NIAC is very concerned by this package as a whole, and believes that we should not provide a blank check for Israel’s war on Gaza or for it to pull the U.S. into a regional war with Iran. We also oppose new broad oil sanctions on Iran that are entirely divorced from a feasible diplomatic strategy. Speaker Johnson’s package is not aimed at supporting de-escalation, but rather enflaming tensions. As a result, we will urge lawmakers to reject it. 

The House of Representatives also voted this week on a raft of measures on sanctions, civil rights, and military action. The House voted to push for a ban on travel to Iran under a U.S. passport that risks criminalizing travel for members of our community. It is a slippery slope to severing our ability to travel and visit family, and is unacceptable. The House also passed a non-binding resolution pledging full support for an Israeli military response to Iran, with only 14 Members of Congress voting against it. The House-passed measures will move on to the Senate, where we will work to prevent them from becoming law.

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