© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) delivers remarks during the AIPAC convention at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, U.S., March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday the Senate will seek within days to pass a resolution supporting Israel, approve additional funds for Israel and confirm a new U.S. ambassador to the Jewish State.
Schumer spoke as the Senate opened after he led a small group of Democratic and Republican senators on a weekend visit to Israel, in the wake of a shock Oct. 7 attack by Hamas fighters that left 1,300 Israelis dead.
“In the coming days, I will be working with the administration on putting together an emergency supplemental (spending bill) that will give Israel the tools it needs to defend itself,” Schumer said.
“That means military assistance, intelligence assistance, diplomatic assistance and humanitarian assistance to care for innocent civilians. We want to move this package quickly. The Senate must go first. I know that the House is in disarray, but we cannot wait for them,” he said.
Schumer said he thought Senate passage of a strong pro-Israel legislation might encourage the House of Representatives to act, despite its leadership impasse.
Support for Israel has historically been bipartisan in the U.S. Congress. Israel currently receives $3.8 billion in military assistance per year, under a 10-year aid package passed in 2016.
The Republican-majority House has been without a Speaker since Kevin McCarthy was ousted on Oct. 3. That has held up any legislative action, from debating further aid to Ukraine as it battles a Russian invasion to a statement of support for ally Israel in its war with Hamas.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the next ambassador to Israel, on Wednesday.
Schumer called Lew “capable and strong” and urged the committee to approve Lew as soon as possible, so the full Senate can confirm him “in all due haste.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General C.Q. Brown will hold a classified briefing on the Middle East conflict for the full Senate on Wednesday.