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Ted Cruz tries to divide Democrats on Israel through War Powers Resolutions.

Cruz looks to force vote dividing Democrats on Israel

Republicans aren’t done trying to squeeze Democrats over President Joe Biden’s recent decision to pause some bomb shipments to Israel.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has come up with a creative approach that could circumvent Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and force vulnerable Democratic senators to take a difficult vote — if the resolution wins privileged status.

Cruz is planning to file a War Powers Resolution that would eventually compel the Biden administration to abandon the pier that was constructed to ease the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

During and since the construction of the U.S. pier, there have been attacks on the area where it’s located. Cruz argues that a War Powers Act vote is applicable here, although the Pentagon hasn’t reported any combat-related injuries for U.S. personnel and Biden says no Americans will enter Gaza. All War Powers votes are privileged, meaning the majority party can’t block them from getting a floor vote.

“The Biden White House’s foreign policy is utterly backwards,” Cruz told us. “He is blocking weapons to Israel… and he has just recently spent hundreds of millions of dollars building this pier in Gaza to continue providing aid to Gaza that will go directly to Hamas.”

Ultimately, the Senate parliamentarian has the authority to determine whether the resolution is privileged based on the hostilities around the pier. Here’s a good CRS report on the use of War Powers Resolutions.

A source familiar with the matter said the parliamentarian has given a “preliminarily favorable ruling,” although opponents still have a chance to make their case.

If all goes according to Cruz’s plan, a vote could take place in early June when the Senate returns from the Memorial Day recess.

There’s little sign that any significant amount of aid has reached Gazans via the $320 million pier. Part of the structure was damaged in a recent storm.

For his part, Cruz is openly saying this effort is intended to divide Democrats:

This could be a tough vote for several Democrats in the Senate. Until now, Republicans have only been able to force difficult Israel-related votes in the House because of their party’s narrow majority there.

Earlier this month, House Republicans passed a bill — with the support of a handful of Democrats — that seeks to prevent Biden from interrupting the flow of U.S. weapons to Israel. This was in direct response to Biden’s decision to delay a shipment of heavy bombs to Israel.

Cruz said he would prefer for the Senate to hold a vote on his proposal that mirrors that House measure. Schumer has signaled he won’t bring that up in the Senate, noting that the White House had issued a veto threat.

“The power of the War Powers Resolution is that Schumer can’t block the vote,” Cruz asserted.

We’ll note that Cruz opposed a bipartisan January 2020 War Power Resolution offered by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) when then-President Donald Trump ordered a U.S. missile attack on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani near the Baghdad International Airport. U.S. officials said Soleimani was an imminent threat to American forces in the region. Both the House and Senate passed the Kaine resolution, which was then vetoed by Trump.

— Andrew Desiderio

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