Going around Congress, the Biden administration said on Saturday it has approved the emergency sale to Israel of nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition worth more than $106 million, The Associated Press reported.
The move comes as President Joe Biden’s request for a nearly $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other national security is languishing in Congress.
On Wednesday, Senate Republicans blocked aid for Israel and Ukraine from advancing in a key vote. Republicans have insisted that the foreign aid must be paired with major border security policy changes.
In November, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill that would have provided $14.3 billion in aid to Israel.
US Senate Democrats later blocked the bill, taking issue with the bill over the fact that it would enact funding cuts to the Internal Revenue Service and that it did not include aid to Ukraine.
The State Department said on Saturday it had notified Congress of the sale late Friday after Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined “an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale” of the munitions in the US national security interest.
That means the purchase will bypass the congressional review requirement for foreign military sales. Such determinations are rare, but not unprecedented, when administrations see an urgent need for weapons to be delivered without waiting for lawmakers’ approval.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives. Israel will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense,” the State Department said, according to AP.
The sale is worth $106.5 million and includes 13,981 120 mm High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer tank cartridges as well as U.S. support, engineering and logistics. The materiel will come from Army inventory.