Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped his attempt to block a $735 million arms sale to Israel, The Hill reports.
Sanders ended his effort after the State Department told him on Friday that it already approved the sale. An aide told the Journal that it wasn’t clear if Sanders could have actually forced a vote to block the sale.
Sanders introduced a resolution last week aimed at blocking the transfer. The Arms Export Control Act allows Congress to block such sales through a joint resolution with a simple majority vote, though it would take a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto.
Sanders’ resolution would have split the Democratic Party and Republicans were unlikely to back the legislation.
Sanders drops State Dept hold:
Sanders also dropped a hold on all State Department nominees that he placed last week in an effort to block the sale.
The move came after Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman briefed Sanders on steps the Biden administration "preparing to take to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and across the Palestinian Territories."
Sanders told Sherman that "returning to the pre-war status quo was insufficient" and that he and other lawmakers would "push for greater debate to make sure that US arms sales do not support human rights abuses."
"Secretary Sherman committed to a continuing dialogue on these issues. As a result of this conversation, Senator Sanders has lifted his hold on State Department nominees," according to the aide.
Sale goes through:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed in an interview with ABC News on Sunday that the arms sale would go forward.
“The president’s been equally clear. We are committed to giving Israel the means to defend itself, especially when it comes to these indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilians. Any country would respond to that, and we are committed to Israel’s defense,” he told the outlet, adding that the sale would be done in “full consultation with Congress.”