OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Some Democrats in the Senate are upset with President Joe Biden after he made a decision to bypass Congress and send additional weapons to Israel as the Jewish state continues its offensive in Gaza following a horrific surprise attack by Hamas on Oct. 7 that left nearly 1,400 dead.
“The Defense Department said Friday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had notified Congress about its second emergency determination to cover over $147.5 million in equipment sales, including new fuses and chargers for the 155 mm shells already purchased by the Israeli military,” the Washington Examiner reported.
In a statement, Blinken said: “Given the urgency of Israel’s defensive needs, the secretary notified Congress that he had exercised his delegated authority to determine an emergency existed, necessitating the immediate approval of the transfer.”
The emergency declaration, by law, allows the Executive Branch to waive the normal requirement of congressional review typically required for sales of U.S. military equipment to other countries.
The Examiner noted further:
The back-to-back emergency declarations for Israel sparked fresh criticism from Senate Democrats who have cited concerns that the Israeli military has failed to take the necessary steps to prevent civilian causalities in Gaza, as the death toll surpasses 21,000, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
But more to the point, some Democrats in the chamber ripped the method by which the sales were authorized by the State Department. They argued that using an emergency determination as a means of approving the weapons for a foreign military means the Biden administration has bypassed an essential check on the Executive Branch.
“Unnecessarily bypassing Congress means keeping the American people in the dark,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) told Punchbowl News. “We need a public explanation of the rationale behind this decision — the second such decision this month.”
By failing to include the Legislative Branch in the decision-making process for foreign military sales, the Biden administration’s decision “undermines transparency and weakens accountability,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) added in a Sunday statement.
The weapons authorized for and sent to Israel have “been used to devastating effect in Gaza, contributing to the death and injury of countless civilians and the displacement of an estimated 2 million people,” Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT) noted on Sunday.
“The war in Gaza has generated immense controversy and concern in the United States and around the world,” Welch added in a statement. “The president should follow the established procedure of submitting his arms sales recommendations to Congress for prior approval.”
At the same time, Biden’s request for an additional $106 billion in security aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan is stalled in Congress because the White House and Democrats in the Senate won’t agree to substantially increasing illegal immigration enforcement and improving border security.
Late last month, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) blasted the Biden administration for discussing amnesty for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) with Mexico while ditching border security negotiations with Congress.
“Johnson made the comments in response to a joint statement released Thursday from the United States and Mexico on a meeting Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador held with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday,” the Washington Examiner reported separately.
The statement, released by AMLO’s government, said that the “delegations also discussed the benefits of regularizing the situation of Hispanic migrants who have been undocumented for several years and the DACA beneficiaries, who are a vital part of the US economy and society.”
“At a time when America is experiencing the worst border crisis in our nation’s history, it is unconscionable to hear the Biden Administration’s announcement that Secretaries Mayorkas and Blinken discussed with the President of Mexico amnesty for illegal immigrants,” Johnson said in a post on X.
“The United States must focus on policies that deter — not attract — people attempting to come here illegally, and the smugglers who profit from the catastrophe at our border,” he added. “This development further demonstrates the Administration has no real intention of solving the humanitarian disaster and immediate national security crisis their policies have created.”