As President Joe Biden continues to scramble for a cohesive response to the recent escalation of conflict between Israel and Hamas, his administration’s recently proposed $735 million arms sale to Israel has been met with hostility in Congress. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has already publicly stated her opposition toward the arms deal, uniting progressives who staunchly oppose Israel’s dominance in the region.
The administration’s decision to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for peace and a ceasefire certainly didn’t help its case in the eyes of either supporters or critics of Israel’s retaliatory strikes in Gaza. The Biden White House will continue to feel pressure to side with one wing of the Democratic Party over the other in yet another litmus test on its allegiance to either the party’s ideologically progressive or more moderate wing.
In classic fashion, members of the Squad are behind progressive efforts in the House to restrict the Biden administration’s plan to sell precision-guided weaponry to Israel. At the same time, more mainstream Democrats within the House, like House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), have waved away any coalition efforts to dissuade Biden from continuing on with his proposed deal. Despite the Squad’s inability to control a sizeable majority of votes in the House, the push from Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) to force a polarizing resolution vote on the issue will be a prominent thorn in the side of the pro-Israel group of Democratic Party legislators now being forced to make public their views on such a controversial subject.
The Squad intends to propose a resolution of disapproval on the arms sale, which, however legally nonbinding it may be, will serve as political ammunition for progressive Democrats to use against more moderate party members. This use of legislative procedure represents yet another case of the Democratic Party’s disunity conveniently being ignored by media networks focused more on encouraging Republican infighting in recent weeks. Despite the Squad’s quick call to action, it’s unlikely that the resolution of disapproval will pass. Fellow Democrats have already begun countering the Squad’s narrative of Israel being the aggressor.
As it stands, the Biden administration has thrown support behind a de-escalation of violence on both sides of the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but progressive critics have continued to accuse the president of siding with the status quo. This kind of congressional infighting, no matter how insignificant, represents a test for a party that will appear increasingly fractured as the conflict carries on. Congressional Democrats have been on the offense these last few weeks, rehabilitating Liz Cheney’s (R-WY) public image through the media to point out Republican infighting following her expulsion as House Republican Conference chair. This latest turn of events will be an unwelcome surprise to Biden and Democrats overall, who continue to avoid public scrutiny. It remains unclear if yet another occasion of progressive unrest with the mainstream Democratic Party will be skipped over or whether it will spark ire among woke social activists in the days to come.
Read more from Jose Backer.