Sports

Biden urged to suspend weapons transfers to Israel; government says aid deliveries must be stepped up ‘rapidly’ – live


Top Democrats up pressure on Biden to change Israel policy ahead of visit to collapsed Baltimore bridge

The fallout from Israel’s killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers is continuing, with several of Joe Biden’s top Senate allies pressuring him for a decisive change in course on supporting its invasion of Gaza. In an interview with Politico, Chris Van Hollen demanded the Biden administration suspend weapons transfers if Israel does not better protect civilians, while Elizabeth Warren called for the planned sale of F-15 fighter jets to the country to be canceled. Citing reports of famine in Gaza, independent senator Bernie Sanders, said yesterday “Israel should not be getting another nickel in military aid until these policies are fundamentally changed.” The mounting opposition could further complicate Congress’s approval of military aid package for Israel, Ukraine and other US allies, which has been deadlocked for months.

The two issues will intersect this afternoon, when Biden visits the site of the collapse Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore. Van Hollen, who represents Maryland and will attend the event, says he plans to bring up his concerns over his policies towards Israel when he sees the president. Biden is expected to arrive in Baltimore at 12.30pm, and will tour the site and meet with the families of the six people killed when the collapse happened.

Here’s what else we expect today:

  • Biden is reportedly planning a second attempt at student debt relief, after his initial proposal was blocked by the supreme court’s conservatives.

  • Two judges in two of Donald Trump’s indictments yesterday rejected his attempts to dismiss the cases against him. One of them was the Florida classified documents case, which still has no trial date.

  • The US economy added far more jobs than expected in March, as the labor market sees surprising growth.

Share

Updated at 

Key events

The day so far

The chorus of Democratic senators asking Joe Biden to rethink his support for Israel has grown louder in the wake of the killing of seven aid workers earlier this week. Lawmakers aligned with the president are asking him to cancel planned weapons sales, or cut off military support altogether if Israel does not do a better job of protecting civilians. Congress is currently out, with the Senate and House resuming business in Washington DC next week, but in a sign of how fraught the issue has become, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer made no mention of approving more aid to Israel in a letter sent to lawmakers ahead of their return.

Here’s what else is going on today:

  • Biden plans to later this afternoon visit the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, where he’ll discuss efforts to get the city’s economically vital port reopened, and meet with families of the six men killed in the disaster.

  • Democratic senator Chris Murphy warned that Israel’s conduct in Gaza could worsen the threat of terrorism worldwide.

  • Student debt relief is reportedly getting a second go from Biden, who will next week announce plans to reduce what borrowers owe that could survive a court challenge.

Share

Updated at 

Biden to again attempt mass student debt forgiveness after supreme court blocked earlier effort – report

The Biden administration will try again to implement a large-scale student debt relief plan, a year after a previous attempt was blocked by the supreme court’s conservative justices, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The plan, which Joe Biden will announce on Monday during a visit to swing state Wisconsin, comes as opinion polls show the president struggling to maintain support among younger voters ahead of his expected November election rematch against Donald Trump.

The new plan takes advantage of the complicated federal rulemaking process to target relief at borrowers facing financial hardship, who have been in debt for a long time, or must repay more in interest than the principal of their loans, the Journal reports. The Biden administration also expects it to face a court challenge, but believes this plan is more sound than the original, which was overturned by justices who found that the administration interpreted federal law too broadly.

Here’s more on what we know about the plan, from the Journal:

The president’s advisers hope to use the rules to begin canceling waves of student debt in the run-up to the November election, but the exact timing of the effort will depend on how quickly the administration can finalize the regulations. The debt forgiveness push could give Biden a political boost, especially among young people, amid polls that show him trailing former President Donald Trump, his GOP opponent, in several key states. But the proposal, once it is completed, is likely to face legal action from Republican attorneys general, who will again try to convince the courts to block it.

Just hours after the Supreme Court in June 2023 killed his first student loan forgiveness plan, Biden pledged to try again using different legal authority. That kicked off a lengthy and bureaucratic process led by the Education Department to craft regulations that define under what circumstances the federal government can “waive,” or eliminate, federal student debt. The administration is basing the regulations on a 1965 law called the Higher Education Act.

The proposed regulation is expected to outline several categories that would qualify borrowers for debt relief, including financial hardship, the people said. For example, borrowers with high debt loads and low incomes could see their loan balances reduced or eliminated under the plan. It could also outline a path to relief for borrowers who have carried their debt for decades; who now owe more than their initial loan amount because interest has piled up; or who are eligible for relief through other federal programs, but haven’t applied.

Administration officials are developing estimates for how many borrowers could see relief through the plan. Outside experts said the proposal could lower or eliminate student debt balances for millions of people if the administration opts to embrace the most ambitious version of the regulations that have been discussed.

Share

Updated at 

Democratic opposition to giving Israel military aid can also be found in the House of Representatives.

The Wall Street Journal reports that around 20 Democrats in the House are expected to vote against the $95bn military aid legislation for Israel, Ukraine and other US allies that is pending in the chamber.

Republican speaker Mike Johnson still has not brought that measure up for a vote, and it’s unclear if, or when, he will do that. Johnson has lately hinted that he would bring it up in exchange for changes to how the Ukraine aid is structured, and if Joe Biden revokes a recently enacted ban on new natural gas export projects. If he moves forward, the bill may face opposition from Republicans opposed to arming Kyiv, in addition to the Democrats upset over its assistances to Israel.

Share

Updated at 

Biden briefed on earthquake felt in New York City area

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reports that Joe Biden has been briefed on this morning’s earthquake in New Jersey, which was felt across the north-eastern US including the New York City area:

The President has been briefed on the earthquake, which had an epicenter in New Jersey, and he is in touch with his team who are monitoring potential impacts. The White House is in touch with federal, state, and local officials as we learn more.

— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) April 5, 2024

The US Geological Survey gave the quake a preliminary magnitude of 4.8 and said it was centered near Lebanon, New Jersey. Here’s more on this developing story:

Joanna Walters

Hours after Joe Biden told Israel on Thursday afternoon to take concrete steps to protect civilians and aid workers in Gaza or risk losing military support from the US, top Democrats ramped up pressure on the White House to go further.

The progressive senator Bernie Sanders was among the strongest voices. “Israel should not be getting another nickel in military aid” until it markedly facilitates the flow of provisions into a region that the US suspects is already grappling with famine, he said.

“We are looking at one of the worst humanitarian disasters that we have seen in a very, very long time … because Israel is not allowing the humanitarian trucks into Gaza, and especially into the areas where people are in most desperate condition,” Sanders told CNN late on Thursday.

Adding that it was not the US’s job to worry about how Gaza may tie into the political future of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Vermont senator added: “My view is no more military aid to Israel when children [there] are starving.”

Read the full report here.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Photograph: Mark Schiefelbein/AP
Share

Updated at 

Maya Yang

Connecticut senator Chris Murphy said on Friday that “US intel officials say that the war in Gaza will have a generational impact on terrorism.”

He added:

“Even if you are willing to defend 13,000 dead children as a cost of war (I am not), how does one defend an operation that is growing, not shrinking, terrorism?”

US intel officials say that the war in Gaza will have a generational impact on terrorism.

Even if you are willing to defend 13,000 dead children as a cost of war (I am not), how does one defend an operation that is growing, not shrinking, terrorism? https://t.co/PzqBki3Ki8

— Chris Murphy 🟧 (@ChrisMurphyCT) April 5, 2024

Since October, Israeli forces have killed over 33,000 Palestinians as it wages its deadly war on Gaza. Meanwhile, approximately 2m survivors have been forcibly displaced across the strip.

Share

Updated at 

No mention of Israel in letter from Democratic leader Schumer on ‘Senate’s busy agenda’

There will be plenty to do when senators return to Washington DC next week from their two-week recess, ranging from dealing with the impeachment of homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to confirming federal judges, the Senate’s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer wrote today in a letter to lawmakers.

But one issue is conspicuously absent from Schumer’s message on the Senate’s “busy agenda”: any mention of Israel, or Joe Biden’s still-pending request for $14bn in military assistance to America’s closest Middle Eastern ally.

It was the latest sign of the evolving politics among Democrats over whether to fund Israel’s invasion of Gaza, as Biden faces a sustained campaign of protests over his administration’s support, and outrage boils over the killing of seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen earlier this week.

Schumer instead sticks to emphasizing the importance of approving aid to Ukraine, an issue around which Democrats are far more united. The Senate passed legislation authorizing aid to Kyiv, Israel and other US allies in February, but Republican House speaker Mike Johnson has yet to act on it.

Here’s what Schumer wrote:

Off the floor, we will continue to keep pressure on the House to act on the Senate-passed national security supplemental that would provide desperately needed funding to Ukraine in their fight against Putin. The Senate bill has sat on Speaker Johnson’s desk for more than 50 days. The longer that the national security supplemental sits on Speaker Johnson’s desk, the more desperate the situation in Ukraine becomes.

I have spoken with Speaker Johnson, and I believe that he understands the threat of further delaying the national security supplemental. However, Speaker Johnson has to ultimately decide for himself whether or not he will do the right thing for Ukraine, for America and for democracy around the world or if he’ll allow the extreme MAGA wing of his party to hand Vladimir Putin a victory.

Share

Updated at 

Responding to Israel’s investigation into the killing of seven of its aid workers, World Central Kitchen said the disciplinary actions against those involved represented “important steps forward”.

But the group also warned: “Without systemic change, there will be more military failures, more apologies and more grieving families.”

We have a live blog covering the latest on the war in Gaza, and you can find it here:

An Israeli military investigation has blamed senior officers for the killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers earlier this week. Here’s more on that, from the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont:

An Israeli military commission of inquiry has blamed a series of “grave errors” by military personnel, including lack of coordination and misidentification, for its killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza drone strikes.

The Israel Defense Forces said they had dismissed a brigade chief of staff with the rank of colonel and a brigade fire support officer with the rank of major and issued formal reprimands to senior officers, including the general at the head of the southern command.

The findings are likely to renew scepticism over the military’s decision-making. Palestinians, aid groups and human rights organisations have repeatedly accused Israeli forces of firing recklessly at civilians throughout the conflict – a charge Israel denies.

Biden administration calls for Israel’s expansion of aid deliveries in Gaza to be ‘fully and rapidly implemented’

Facing outrage over the killing of seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen, Israel yesterday announced it would reopen a border crossing with Gaza and allow more aid to flow through another port.

In a statement, national security council spokesperson Adrienne Watson welcomed that step, while reiterating that Joe Biden has conditioned further support for Israel’s war effort on its protection of civilians:

We welcome the steps announced by the Israeli government tonight at the President’s request following his call with Prime Minister Netanyahu. These steps, including a commitment to open the Ashdod port for the direct delivery of assistance into Gaza, to open the Erez crossing for a new route for assistance to reach north Gaza, and to significantly increase deliveries from Jordan directly into Gaza, must now be fully and rapidly implemented.

Here’s more on how the expansion of aid deliveries into Gaza will work:

Share

Updated at 

Top Democrats up pressure on Biden to change Israel policy ahead of visit to collapsed Baltimore bridge

The fallout from Israel’s killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers is continuing, with several of Joe Biden’s top Senate allies pressuring him for a decisive change in course on supporting its invasion of Gaza. In an interview with Politico, Chris Van Hollen demanded the Biden administration suspend weapons transfers if Israel does not better protect civilians, while Elizabeth Warren called for the planned sale of F-15 fighter jets to the country to be canceled. Citing reports of famine in Gaza, independent senator Bernie Sanders, said yesterday “Israel should not be getting another nickel in military aid until these policies are fundamentally changed.” The mounting opposition could further complicate Congress’s approval of military aid package for Israel, Ukraine and other US allies, which has been deadlocked for months.

The two issues will intersect this afternoon, when Biden visits the site of the collapse Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore. Van Hollen, who represents Maryland and will attend the event, says he plans to bring up his concerns over his policies towards Israel when he sees the president. Biden is expected to arrive in Baltimore at 12.30pm, and will tour the site and meet with the families of the six people killed when the collapse happened.

Here’s what else we expect today:

  • Biden is reportedly planning a second attempt at student debt relief, after his initial proposal was blocked by the supreme court’s conservatives.

  • Two judges in two of Donald Trump’s indictments yesterday rejected his attempts to dismiss the cases against him. One of them was the Florida classified documents case, which still has no trial date.

  • The US economy added far more jobs than expected in March, as the labor market sees surprising growth.

Share

Updated at 





Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button