Hawkish Middle East Policy Remains Bipartisan, as a Partisan Shutdown Looms.

Jonathan Cohn
3 min readSep 30, 2023

House Republicans have been racing toward a shutdown of the federal government, as they refuse to honor a deal already negotiated with President Biden over the summer.

This past week, the House has been voting on a series of appropriations bills and trying to keep the votes of the Republican hardliners (not always successfully). But with these votes has come a never-ending series of amendment votes, as is often be the case with appropriations bills.

I wrote about many of these amendment votes earlier, but I wanted to highlight separately two of them that showed how a hawkish Middle Eastern policy remains unfortunately bipartisan in Washington.

Part I: Israel

In 2018, Donald Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, further closing off opportunities to ever restart a moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process and giving blessing to the Israeli’s continued settlement expansion.

Given Jerusalem’s status as as a sacred place to all three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), it has been the international consensus for decades that no one group should have exclusive control of the city. Moreover, the status of Jerusalem has been a central point of contention between Israel and Palestine — as well as in international law —since Israel claims it as its “undivided capital” and Palestinians claim the city as a capital as well.

Although the move was widely condemned by foreign policy experts at the time, Biden has continued forward with it, building the embassy on confiscated land.

Despite the fact that this is a misguided move, and Biden appears fully intent on continuing it, Republican Claudia Tenney (NY-24) put forth an amendment to the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill to prevent funds from being used to move the US Embassy in Israel out of Jerusalem. It passed overwhelmingly 360 to 67, with all 67 no votes coming from Democrats.

Here were the 67:

Part II: Iran

Another harmful foreign policy move that Trump took while in office was to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an ideological branch of the Iranian military, as a foreign terrorist organization. The move was intended to block any hope of reviving the nuclear deal with Iran that was one of President Obama’s crowning foreign policy achievements. As critics pointed out at the time, it put US troops in the region at risk in order to do nothing but pander to the right-wing governments in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Although, again, Biden has unfortunately not broken with Trump on this issue, Andy Ogles (TN-05) put forth an amendment to the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill to block the use of funds to delist the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Disappointingly, but unsurprisingly, it passed 351 to 81.

All 81 dissenting votes were Democrats:

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Jonathan Cohn

Editor. Bibliophile. Gadfly. Environmentalist. Super-volunteer for progressive campaigns. Boston by way of Baltimore, London, NYC, DC, and Philly.