Pence votes for bill requiring delivery of bombs to Israel

U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, speaks to members of the Greenwood Rotary Club on Monday, April 15, 2024, at Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood, Indiana. (Noah Crenshaw | Daily Journal)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., has voted in favor of a bill seeking to force the Biden administration to continue weapons transfers to Israel, according to congressional records.

The House delivered a rebuke to President Joe Biden Thursday for pausing a shipment of bombs to Israel, voting 224-187 to pass legislation that seeks to force the weapons transfer as Republicans worked to highlight Democratic divisions over the Israel-Hamas war, The Associated Press reported.

All House Republicans representing Indiana, including Pence, voted in favor of the bill, while Rep. Frank Mrvan, D-Ind., voted against it and Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., did not cast a vote.

Seeking to discourage Israel from its offensive on the crowded southern Gaza city of Rafah, the Biden administration this month put on hold a weapons shipment of 3,500 bombs — some as large as 2,000 pounds — that are capable of killing hundreds in populated areas, according to wire reports. Republicans were outraged, accusing Biden of abandoning the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East.

Debate over the bill, rushed to the House floor by GOP leadership this week, showed Washington’s deeply fractured outlook on the Israel-Hamas war, according to the AP. The White House and Democratic leadership scrambled to rally support from a House caucus that ranges from moderates frustrated that the president would allow any daylight between the U.S. and Israel to progressives outraged that he is still sending any weapons at all.

On the right, Republicans said the president had no business chiding Israel for how it uses the U.S.-manufactured weapons that are instrumental in its war against Hamas. They have not been satisfied with the Biden administration moving forward this week on a new $1 billion sale to Israel of tank ammunition, tactical vehicles and mortar rounds.

The House bill condemns Biden for initiating the pause on the bomb shipment and would withhold funding for the State Department, Department of Defense and the National Security Council until the delivery is made, according to wire reports.

The White House has said Biden would veto the bill if it passes Congress, and the Democratic-led Senate seems certain to reject it.

Biden placed the hold on the transfer of the bombs this month over concerns the weapons could inflict massive casualties in Rafah and to deter Israel from the attack.

Over 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed as Israel tries to eliminate Hamas in retaliation for its Oct. 7 attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel and took about 250 more captive, according to wire reports. Hundreds of thousands of people could be at risk of death if Israel attacks Rafah, the United Nations humanitarian aid agency has warned, because so many have fled there for safety.