Mike Johnson and Mitch McConnell
Mike Johnson and Mitch McConnellReuters/Lamkey Rod/CNP/ABACA

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging that congressionally appropriated security assistance to Israel should be expedited immediately.

The letter followed confirmation from US officials that the US had paused a shipment of bombs to Israel last week over concerns that Israel was approaching a decision on launching a full-scale assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

The shipment which was paused was supposed to consist of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs, a US official told The Associated Press, with the focus of US concern being the larger explosives and how they could be used in a dense urban setting.

“Having recently worked on a bipartisan basis to pass an emergency national security supplemental appropriations bill that included urgent assistance to Israel, we were alarmed by media reports that your Administration had delayed the delivery of a variety of weapons shipments bound for Israel. This news flies in the face of assurances provided regarding the timely delivery of security assistance to Israel,” McConnell and Johnson wrote in their letter.

“While we appreciate recent clarifications that assistance funded by the supplemental appropriations bill will not be impacted, we believe that security assistance to Israel is an urgent priority that must not be delayed. These recent press reports and pauses in critical weapons shipments call into question your pledge that your commitment to Israel’s security will remain ironclad. Despite regular engagement on security assistance to Israel, and repeated assurances from the most senior officials over the past several months, it was only after public press reports and subsequent engagement by our offices that we learned from your staff that ‘a review of a specific weapons shipment’ was underway. The American public deserves to understand the nature, timing, and scope of these reviews,” they added.

“Additionally, we have not been able to obtain pertinent information from the Department of State or from the Department of Defense regarding the ongoing review. Israel faces an existential and multi-front threat as recently demonstrated by the direct attack by Iran and Iranian-backed terrorists, and daylight between the United States and Israel at this dangerous time risks emboldening Israel’s enemies and undermining the trust that other allies and partners have in the United States,” the two lawmakers continued.

“We believe security assistance to Israel, Ukraine, and vulnerable partners in the Indo-Pacific should be expedited to the fullest extent possible. We expect your Administration will push departments, agencies, and industry to expedite contracting, production, and delivery of weapons and munitions critical to the defense of the United States and the free world in accordance with Congressional intent. We ask that you provide relevant responses by the end of the week on the timing of this ‘review,’ if any other shipments will be similarly paused, what office is responsible for conducting the review(s), and most importantly when the review is anticipated to end to allow this vital assistance to move forward,” concluded McConnell and Johnson.

Also on Wednesday, US Senator Lindsey Graham grilled Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Charles Q. Brown Jr. on the Biden administration's freezing of an arms shipment to Israel, demanding to know if they would have dropped the two atomic bombs on Japan in order to end World War II.

"If we stop weapons necessary to destroy the enemies of the State of Israel at a time of great peril, we will pay a price. This is obscene. It is absurd. Give Israel what they need to fight the war. They can’t afford to lose. This is Hiroshima and Nagasaki on steroids," Graham warned.