J Street Welcomes Senate Security Package, Urges House Passage

February 13, 2024

J Street welcomes the Senate’s passage of the bipartisan national security supplemental package and, despite concerns about some of its provisions, urges swift passage in the House.

The package furthers important American geostrategic interests including the defense of our allies Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and the provision of significant global humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people in Gaza and others who are suffering in a dire humanitarian crisis. Together with President Biden and the House Democratic leadership, J Street opposed efforts by House Republicans to strip humanitarian and Ukraine assistance and appropriate solely military assistance to Israel. We are pleased that the Senate package advances these priorities in tandem.

For months as this legislation has been under consideration, J Street has advocated for efforts in the Senate led by Senator Chris Van Hollen and other colleagues to include strong oversight and transparency measures that ensure US-provided arms are used in compliance with domestic and international law. While this package does not incorporate these provisions, the National Security Memorandum (NSM-20) issued by President Biden last week represents a significant step forward, requiring a variety of important assurances from recipient countries and increasing transparency through required reporting on the use of arms provided by the United States.

J Street will work with congressional allies to make certain that the NSM’s requirements are rigorously enforced and that the arms provided through this supplemental package are used in a manner that upholds our national interests and values, and in compliance with domestic and international law.

While J Street welcomes the inclusion of global humanitarian aid, part of which will be allocated to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, we remain deeply concerned about the outright prohibition of US funding to the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). The Biden Administration has temporarily and appropriately paused funding to UNRWA as it reviews allegations against the agency and some of its employees, as well as the UN’s response. However, in light of the urgent need for humanitarian aid and UNRWA’s irreplaceable role in distributing it – a fact acknowledged even by Israeli government officials – J Street supported an amendment that would have waived the ban following presidential certification that the UN had completed its investigation and taken appropriate remedial action. J Street is disappointed that this amendment was not incorporated into the final package and will support efforts to reinstate US funding to UNRWA through appropriations bills, following a thorough investigation.

While this is not the package J Street would have drafted, it is nonetheless an important step forward in addressing the immediate and long-term security and humanitarian needs of the Israeli, Palestinian, Taiwanese and Ukrainian peoples. In light of former President Trump’s ignorant, reckless and damaging statements that Russia should “do whatever the hell they want” to some of our NATO allies, congressional support for this comprehensive package and our partners abroad is all the more important. We urge Members of the House to work together to find a path to bring the bill to the House floor, despite the reckless, bad-faith objections of former President Trump and his allies in Congress, and to pass the legislation so that President Biden can sign it into law.