Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is leading a bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators in Israel, said that the Senate will act swiftly in the hopes that the House of Representatives will do the same.
By Menachem Wecker
(JNS) — “We’re not waiting for the House. We believe if the Senate acts in a strong, bipartisan way, it may indeed improve the chances that the House, even with its current dysfunction, will act,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
“The Senate will go first. We are working very hard to put together a comprehensive package to deal with so many needs that Israel has,” added the highest-ranking elected U.S. Jewish official. “We’re going to try to move it in the next few weeks.”
“We’re not waiting for the House, plain and simple. That would be foolish,” Schumer added. “But we believe if we put together a strong package and pass it with an overwhelming, strong, bipartisan majority, it will put pressure on the House, one way or another, to act.”
The U.S. House of Representatives has been without a speaker since Oct. 3, when Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was voted out.
Schumer, who is leading a bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators to Israel, said that the Senate “will work with the Israeli government and the Biden administration to assemble the most generous package possible.”
“We will not just talk. We will act,” he said. “We will work to move this aid through the Senate ASAP. And the Israeli leaders made it clear to us they need the aid quickly.”
Israeli leaders told the delegation they need, including munitions, precision-guided bombs, Iron Dome replacement, 155 mm howitzers and joint direct attack munitions, as well as intelligence and diplomatic help, Schumer said. “The needs, of course, are quickly evolving over time.”
Schumer said that the delegation he is leading—Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.)—has three aims: to show that America stands with Israel, to learn from Israeli leaders what the Jewish state needs “so we can put the best aid package together quickly” and to demonstration that U.S. support for Israel is bipartisan.
The senator said that he will think of Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked Israel and killed more than 1,300 Israelis, every day for the rest of his life, as he has thought of Sept. 11 since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
The delegation met with families of victims, including those who don’t know if their relatives are alive and some who knew they were being held captive in the Gaza Strip. “When we met them, there was not a dry eye in the house,” Schumer said. “We cried openly.”
Schumer also said that the senators experienced what Israelis do every day. The group had to hasten to a shelter when sirens went off during lunch at the hotel, and the start of the press conference was delayed when a siren went off.
‘We cannot let this evil continue’
“Israelis are affected all the time by Hamas’s war-like attitudes,” Schumer said. “What if this happened to my 4-year-old grandson?”
He noted that his family members—ranging from three months to 88 years old—were rounded up by the Nazis. “They machine-gunned all of them,” he said.
“The world cannot move on and say, ‘Oh, that was yesterday.’ If we don’t prevent the threat from Hamas from occurring, it will happen again and again,” Schumer said. “We cannot let this evil continue to prowl the world.”
Schumer said that the delegation had “good and productive meetings” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz and his party member Gadi Eisenkot, and with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid.
“Israel lives in the hearts of all Jewish people,” said Rosen, who is the only Jewish woman in the Senate. “America will never again abandon the Jewish state.”
Romney said that when pictures come out of Palestinian civilian casualties, it’s important to know that they are Hamas’s responsibility. He also dismissed isolationists stateside who prefer that the United States disengage from foreign policy.
“There’s a war being raged against free countries, against democracies, against freedom,” Romney said. Backing away will only make the war spread further, he said, noting that the United States is involved in the war because it is in the interests of America, Israel and the world.