House Passes Bill To Over Possible ICC Sanctions

In a recent bipartisan move, forty-two House Democrats joined Republicans in voting for a bill to sanction the International Criminal Court (ICC) after its top prosecutor sought arrest warrants against top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This bill, spearheaded by Reps. Chip Roy of Texas and Brian Mast of Florida, passed with a 247-155 vote on Tuesday, reflecting cross-party support.

The bill garnered support despite the White House expressing opposition, although the Biden administration did not go as far as threatening a veto. The White House stated, "There are more effective ways to defend Israel, preserve U.S. positions on the ICC, and promote international justice and accountability," indicating their readiness to collaborate with Congress on alternative solutions.

Last month, bipartisan discussions were underway to respond to ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan's announcement of seeking arrest warrants against both Israeli and Hamas officials over the Gaza conflict. However, these talks fell apart, partly due to the White House's stance against the bill.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas expressed disappointment over the lack of bipartisan support for the measure. He revealed that he and Democratic counterpart Rep. Greg Meeks of New York had negotiated a compromise bill acceptable to both sides.

However, the White House's shift in position disrupted these efforts. McCaul stated, "They raised it to the White House's attention and they did a complete about-face. And while they were for sanctions previously, now they're against."

On the House floor, Rep. Meeks acknowledged the bipartisan effort but criticized the bill, arguing that it could undermine the ICC's ability to prosecute serious global atrocities. He emphasized, "Sanctions should not be our only go-to punishment to express our displeasure, because they have real consequences."

Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana also blamed the White House for the breakdown in talks. He noted that efforts to make the bill bipartisan were thwarted by the administration's refusal to support sanctions. "We couldn't wait any longer. We need to send this message," Johnson asserted.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota maintained that the bill was not partisan and urged the Democrat-controlled Senate to consider it. Emmer stated, "By passing our nonpartisan bill to sanction the ICC for absurdly equivocating Israel to Hamas as a war criminal, the House just sent a resounding message to the world that we unapologetically stand with our ally over barbaric terrorists."

As the bill moves to the Senate, the political dynamics surrounding U.S. foreign policy and support for Israel continue to unfold, highlighting the complexities of international justice and accountability.

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