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US representatives weigh in on Iran attack

Leadership and rank-and-file on both sides of the aisle call for American support for and aid to Israel.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on March 7, 2024. Credit: Oliver Contreras/White House.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on March 7, 2024. Credit: Oliver Contreras/White House.

Many members of the House of Representatives took to social media on Saturday to express their support for Israel following Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone attack on the Jewish state.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, who is coming under renewed pressure to bring to a vote a bill to provide Israel with supplemental aid, said, “As Israel faces this vicious attack from Iran, America must show our full resolve to stand with our critical ally. The world must be assured: Israel is not alone.” 

Johnson went on to state that he would “continue to engage with the White House to insist upon a proper response. The Biden Administration’s undermining of Israel and appeasement of Iran have contributed to these terrible developments.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise announced that the chamber will take up Israel- and Iran-related legislation this week, though he demurred when asked if that would include an Israel-only aid bill or a broader Ukraine/Israel/Taiwan foreign aid package, such as the one the Senate passed in February.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries issued a statement that “Iran, a sworn enemy of the United States, has launched an unprecedented attack against our democratic ally, Israel.”

Vowing that “Iran will not succeed,” Jeffries wrote that, “We stand with the people of Israel during this moment of significant challenge.”

Rep. Ken Calvert, the California Republican who chairs the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said that Congress needs to provide new Israel aid without delay.

“The U.S. Congress must immediately pass a supplemental to provide additional supplies, including counter-UAS (unmanned aircraft system) capability for both Israel and our military in the region, and send an unmistakable signal to Iran that we stand fully by our ally,” he said.

Rep. Mike Lawler, a first-term New York Republican and House Foreign Affairs Committee member, called on Speaker Johnson to “must bring forward a supplemental package of aid for Israel in order to support them in their time of need.”

Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the highest ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an MSNBC interview that he is in touch with HFAC Chair Mike McCaul of Texas in an effort to push an aid package through. 

“We talked about, last week, how extremely important passing a supplemental was for Ukraine and Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian aid,” said Meeks of his talks with McCaul, his Republican counterpart. “This escalates that need,” he said of Iran’s attack.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the New York Democrat considered the dean of the congressional Jewish caucus, said he “vehemently” condemned the attack by Iran and its proxies and added, “I stand fully behind the Israeli people.”

Nadler, who has become increasingly critical of Israel’s handling of its war with Hamas and was booed last week at a rally for the hostages in Gaza for saying Israel needed to deliver more humanitarian aid, said on Saturday that he shared U.S. President Joe Biden’s “commitment to the safety and security of the Israeli people.”

Other Jewish members of Congress also chimed in.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who served as House Majority Leader under Nancy Pelosi, said on Saturday that, “It is absolutely imperative that when the House returns on Monday, we pass the national security supplemental immediately to provide Israel and Ukraine with essential aid to defend itself and deter further attacks from Iran and Russia.” 

Hoyer added that “our allies cannot afford to wait any longer, and neither should we. The Speaker has a responsibility to put the supplemental sent to us by the Senate on the Floor as soon as we return on Monday.”

Staunch pro-Israel Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman of California tweeted that “Congress should immediately pass the Supplemental Appropriations bill which contains $14 billion to defend Israel.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, a Florida Democrat, said Biden has “shown his ironclad support for Israel and committed to defend its people from Iranian attacks. I stand with Israel and thank our Commander-In-Chief for backing up words with action to counter malign threats in the Middle East.”

Rep. David Kustoff, a Tennessee Republican, wrote, “The Biden Administration must send a clear signal that this attack from Iran and any of its proxies will not stand. Israel has the fundamental right to defend herself and her people, and our support for the only Jewish state remains steadfast and ironclad.”

And Michigan Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens said, “President Biden has made clear our steadfast commitment to stand by the Israeli people in their hour of need. I am monitoring the situation closely and praying for all those in the region.”

New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith, the co-chair of the Israel Allies Caucus, wrote in a statement that “the United States must make absolutely clear in both word and deed, not just today, but every day going forward—no more equivocation—that we unequivocally stand with the Jewish state.”

Smith insisted that “both defensive weapons systems like Iron Dome, Arrow and David’s Sling and all necessary offensive military capability must be made available to Israel for as long as it takes to defeat Iran, Hamas and radical Islamists’ aggression.”

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who days ago ripped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Israel’s war against Hamas, wrote on Saturday that “America’s support for Israel’s security is resolute as we condemn Iran’s horrible attacks. Our commitment to the Israeli people and support of their defense remains unwavering—and we must pass the Senate’s national security supplemental.”

Congressman Brad Finstad, a Minnesota Republican, pinned the blame for Iran’s aggression on the White House, writing that the attack “is a direct result of this Administration’s weak leadership on the global stage. We must continue to stand strong with our ally Israel and support their right to defend themselves.”

Virginia Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a House Foreign Affairs Committee member and former CIA agent, urged Johnson to bring the Senate’s foreign aid bill to the House floor. 

“As instability increases throughout the world, we must send this bill to the president’s desk to support our allies and civilians,” she wrote.

California Democratic Rep. Norma Torres urged Johnson to expedite the bill, as well, writing “we cannot continue to delay assistance for Israel. Iran is treading on dangerous ground.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, wrote bluntly that “Iran is a terrorist nation,” adding that “The free world and the United States will stand against this terrorist nation and the tyranny that it promotes.

Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican and retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general, wrote, “In 2009-2011, the team I worked with helped Israel stand up missile and air defense focused on Iran. I’m proud of our work. I pray for the safety of our allies and mission success!”

Congressman Greg Landsman, an Ohio Democrat, tweeted that “Iran will continue to cause chaos until the world puts an end to its terror. Iran is Hamas. Hamas is Iran.” 

Landsman added that “the same is true of Hezbollah and other terror groups in the Middle East….There will be peace when this chaos and terror end.”

Rep. Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina Republican, urged Biden to give Israel a “green light to do whatever is necessary to protect their people, their homeland and their very existence.” 

Duncan encouraged his Israeli friends to be strong and courageous, using the Hebrew term, “Chazak v’amatz,” in a tweet.

New York Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres, an ardent Israel backer, noted one of the key storylines of the night.

“Israel protected Al-Aqsa Mosque from destruction at the hands of Iran,” Torres wrote. “Are the anti-Israel haters going to thank Israel for protecting one of the holiest sites in Islam? No. Are the Anti-Israel haters going to condemn Iran for endangering one of the holiest sites in Islam? No. Selective outrage is their modus operandi.”

None of the members of The Squad—the band of hard-left Democrats who routinely criticize and demonize Israel—commented Saturday on the Iranian attack or what they feel would be the appropriate policy response.

Most also voted against funding the strictly-defensive Iron Dome missile defense system, which is estimated to have saved thousands of Israeli lives on Saturday. 

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