House approves resolution backing Israel in first move by new Speaker

House approves resolution backing Israel in first move by new Speaker

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the state Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) represents. We regret the error.

The House approved a resolution backing Israel and condemning Hamas on Wednesday, the first piece of legislation to clear the lower chamber in more than three weeks because of the extended Speaker stalemate.

The legislation, which spans four pages, was the first measure approved under the leadership of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who clinched the gavel hours before the chamber voted on the resolution. He succeeded former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in the position after the California Republican was ousted from the top job earlier this month.

The House approved the resolution in a 412-10-6 vote, a strong show of support for Israel after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on the U.S. ally Oct. 7, massacring more than 1,000 civilians in the south of the country, kidnapping more than 200 and raining thousands of rockets down across the country.

The resolution declares that the House “stands with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists” and “reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense.” It also “condemns Hamas’ brutal war against Israel” and calls on the U.S.-designated terrorist group “to immediately cease these violent attacks and safely release all living hostages and return the bodies of deceased hostages.”

Hamas has so far released four hostages, with an estimated 220 people kidnapped from Israel still in captivity in the Gaza Strip. Americans and other nationalities are believed to be among them. Israel and the U.S. have not confirmed that any hostages have been killed, saying any claims by Hamas cannot be trusted.

Wednesday’s resolution was a long time coming.

Lawmakers in both parties and chambers have spoken about their desire to move a resolution supporting Israel since Hamas launched its attack earlier this month, but the decision by eight House Republicans and Democrats to vote to oust McCarthy plunged the chamber into a standstill, leaving members unable to move such a measure.

The House was unable to conduct legislative business without a permanent Speaker in place.

Johnson spoke to that dynamic Wednesday.

“The country demands strong leadership of this body, and we must not waver. Our nation’s greatest ally in the Middle East is under attack. The first bill that I’m gonna bring to this floor in just a little while will be in support of our dear friend Israel,” Johnson said in the House chamber after winning the gavel. “And we’re overdue in getting that done.”

“We’re going to show not only Israel, but the entire world, that the barbarism of Hamas that we have all seen play out on our television screens and wretched and wrong, and we’re gonna stand for the food in that conflict,” he added.

The House’s action in support of Israel is unlikely to end with Wednesday’s resolution.

Last week, the White House unveiled a roughly $100 billion supplemental request that includes funds for Israel, Ukraine, U.S. border security and allies in the Indo-Pacific region. The package asks for $14 billion for Israel, roughly $61 billion for Ukraine, almost $14 billion for personnel and operations at the U.S.-Mexico border, $10 billion in humanitarian aid and $2 billion for Indo-Pacific security assistance.

The supplemental has received an icy reception from some Republicans, who are taking issue with the linking of aid for Israel and Ukraine. Support for Kyiv has become a polarizing topic in the House GOP conference, as more GOP lawmakers call for aid to be curtailed.

Biden has pledged U.S. support to Israel in its declaration of war against Hamas, and made note of his supplemental request in a statement following Johnson’s election as Speaker.

“While House Republicans spent the last 22 days determining who would lead their conference, I have worked on those pressing issues, proposing a historic supplemental funding package that advances our bipartisan national security interests in Israel and Ukraine, secures our border, and invests in the American people. These priorities have been endorsed by leaders in both parties,” Biden wrote.

“We need to move swiftly to address our national security needs and to avoid a shutdown in 22 days. Even though we have real disagreements about important issues, there should be mutual effort to find common ground wherever we can,” he added.

The House did not unanimously clear the resolution Wednesday.

Nine Democrats opposed the resolution: Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Andre Carson (Ind.), Cori Bush (Mo.), Al Green (Texas), Summer Lee (Pa.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Delia Ramirez (Ill.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.). Republican Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.) joined them.

Six other Democrats voted “present” on the resolution: Reps. Greg Casar (Texas), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (Ill.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.).

Massie announced on X ahead of the vote that he would oppose the measure despite condemning “the barbaric attack on Israel” and affirming “Israel’s right to defend itself” in part because it urges the full enforcement of U.S. sanction against Iran to prevent the country’s funding of terrorist groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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