Disturbing Effort to Circumvent Congressional Oversight, Debate, and Vote
(Washington, D.C., May 22, 2021): The U.S. Department of State should halt its approval of the export license for $735 million in Boeing weapons to Israel until the U.S. Congress has had the appropriate time to review, debate, and vote on the sale. Yesterday, the Department of State refused to confirm or deny whether it had already approved the arms sale, raising concerns that it proceeded without Congressional oversight.
"The Department of State should not circumvent Congress's review, debate, and vote on this arms sale by rushing through an approval," said DAWN's Advocacy Director Raed Jarrar. "We need a straight answer from the Department of State on whether or not they've jumped the gun and preempted the Senate debate by approving the license this week."
On May 5, 2021, the Department of State notified Congress about its intention to grant The Boeing Company a license to sell Israel $735 million in joint direct attack munitions,small-diameter bombs, and related materiel. For the first time in U.S. history, members of Congress voiced their opposition to the sale and formally introduced resolutions in both the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Under the Arms Export Control Act, the Senate must vote on the resolution within 10 days of its introduction.
However, in response to an inquiry on whether it had approved the export license, a State Department spokesperson refused to provide an answer yesterday, stating: "We are restricted under Federal law and regulation from publicly commenting on or confirming details of licensing activity related to direct commercial sales of export-controlled defense articles or services. We refer you to the Congress [sic] for information about its processes."
"It's bad enough that the U.S. government is brazenly seeking to sell Israel the same weapons that Israel has used to commit war crimes in Gaza, notwithstanding growing public challenges to U.S. military support for Israel," said Jarrar. "It's even more disturbing that the State Department might be deliberately circumventing Congressional review by ramming through its approval at a time when the sale is being challenged by both the House and Senate."
Photo Credits: US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)