Senate

Sanders drops bid to block Biden's Israel arms sale

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is dropping his bid to block a $735 million arms sale to Israel, capping off the long-shot Senate effort, an aide confirmed to The Hill.

Sanders will no longer try to force a vote on his resolution after being informed last week that the sale had been approved.

Sanders has also dropped a hold on State Department nominees that he had placed late last week after speaking with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who discussed steps the administration is "preparing to take to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and across the Palestinian Territories."

Sanders, according to an aide, told Sherman that "returning to the pre-war status quo was insufficient" and that he and other lawmakers were going to "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," the aide added.

Sanders announced late last week that he intended to force a vote on a resolution to block the sale amid an escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas.

But the effort almost immediately appeared doomed. Sanders was short of the votes needed to get the resolution through the Senate. Under the Arms Export Control Act, Sanders needed a simple majority, but faced opposition from Democrats. 

There were also questions about if he could force a vote since the congressional view period for the sale closed late last week.

"I think procedurally he may be out of time," Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) told reporters shortly after Sanders announced his plan. "But I'm not sure, we'll see what the parliamentarian has to say."

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