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Hill Republicans are pressing Biden and senior administration officials over the president’s refusal to provide Israel with bombs.

Congress clashes over Israel

The House and Senate will be in on Tuesday. President Joe Biden will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service.

The crisis in Gaza — and Biden’s handling of the war between Israel and Hamas — will dominate Capitol Hill this week, with the FAA bill and House Republicans’ “Police Week” agenda getting attention as well.

Hill Republicans are pressing Biden and senior administration officials over the president’s refusal to provide Israel with heavy bombs while Israeli forces continue their assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are fleeing the Israeli offensive.

Republicans are accusing Biden of “cutting off” or “abandoning” Israel in the middle of the war. This isn’t true, of course. Israel continues to receive huge shipments of American-made weapons.

Yet this is the most serious strain in U.S.-Israeli relations in decades, and Republicans are exploiting it in an attempt to put Biden and Democratic congressional leaders in a political bind. There’s growing anger inside Democratic ranks, especially among progressives, over Israel’s conduct of the war and the more than 30,000 Palestinian deaths since the conflict began. Israel attacked Gaza following Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks.

While Democrats brawl over the issue, House GOP leaders plan to move forward with a resolution to condemn the Biden administration for withholding military aid from Israel. It’s a non-binding “Sense of Congress” resolution, so it doesn’t carry any real weight. But this will further split the House Democratic Caucus, something the Republican leadership has enjoyed doing in recent weeks.

During a Sunday interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken — who spoke to Israeli officials on Sunday — said the heavy bombs were the only weapons being held up at this point:

Blinken also noted that the IDF is once again battling Hamas in Gaza City and other areas that supposedly had been cleared of militants months ago.

FAA: The biggest floor action this week is House consideration of the five-year FAA reauthorization bill. The Senate cleared the legislation Thursday evening and also passed a one-week extension, which gives the House until Friday to get this done.

The big point of contention in the FAA bill is the addition of slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The Maryland and Virginia delegations are adamantly opposed to the effort yet were unable to strip the language from the package in the Senate.

House Republicans overwhelmingly support expanding DCA to allow more flights outside the statutory perimeter. House Democrats are largely opposed.

House GOP leadership intends to bring the FAA bill to the floor under suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority for passage. So they clearly don’t believe that they’ll have any problems passing the bill even with the DCA language included.

Other dynamics to watch this week:

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) is continuing to bleed staff. Vanessa Ide, Cuellar’s fundraiser, has quit, according to multiple sources. And Cuellar’s political advisers have turned against him and are cooperating with the Justice Department.
The NRCC is pressing House Democrats to return donations from Cuellar’s leadership PAC. Texas First PAC has doled out $340,000 to Democratic campaigns in its 16-year history, including donations in recent cycles to vulnerable members like Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine), Susie Lee (D-Nev.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). Cuellar’s PAC has also given to Minority Whip Katherine Clark and the DCCC.
The federal bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) begins this week in New York City.
The House Judiciary Committee is slated to mark up a contempt of Congress resolution targeting Attorney General Merrick Garland. The Justice Department has given GOP congressional investigators transcripts of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s interviews with Biden but not the tapes.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the ranking member, dropped a new op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Sunday saying Section 230 — which governs the liability of online publishers — has outlived its usefulness. Here’s the draft version of their legislation.

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