State Dept. OKs Sale of Tank Ammunition12/10 09:29
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Going around Congress, the Biden administration said
Saturday it has approved the emergency sale to Israel of nearly 14,000 rounds
of tank ammunition worth more than $106 million as Israel intensifies its
military operations in the southern Gaza Strip.
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, caught up in a debate over U.S. immigration policy and border
security. Some Democratic lawmakers have spoken of making the proposed $14.3
billion in American assistance to its Mideast ally contingent on concrete steps
by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to reduce civilian
casualties in Gaza during the war with Hamas.
The State Department said 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 U.S. national security
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 U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong
and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those
objectives," the department said in a statement. "Israel will use the enhanced
capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland
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.
Bypassing Congress with emergency determinations for arms sales is an
unusual step that has in the past met resistance from lawmakers, who normally
have a period of time to weigh on proposed weapons transfers and, in some
cases, block them.
In May, 2019, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an emergency
determination for an $8.1 billion sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United
Arab Emirates and Jordan after it became clear that the Trump administration
would have trouble overcoming lawmakers' concerns about the Saudi- UAE-led war
Pompeo came under heavy criticism for the move, which some believed may have
violated the law because many of the weapons involved had yet to be built and
could not be delivered urgently. But he was cleared of any wrongdoing after an
At least four administrations have used the authority since 1979. President
George H.W. Bush's administration used it during the Gulf War to get arms
quickly to Saudi Arabia.