Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez apologizes after tearful ‘present’ vote on Israeli Iron Dome funding bill
WASHINGTON – Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., wrote a long, moving open letter on Friday apologizing to her constituents for effectively abstaining in a vote on funding for Israel’s missile defense system Iron Dome, which was passed by an overwhelming majority in the House a day earlier.
Ocasio-Cortez, who could be seen crying in the House after the vote, used her letter to criticize both the substance of the bill and what she described as the “reckless” and “rushed” process to adopt it. She opposed “unconditional aid to the Israeli government,” she added in her letter, but ultimately changed her vote from “no” to “now”, meaning that one member would not. does not take a position for or against but registers its presence.
The House voted measure 420 to 9.
However, Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to effectively abstain has drawn the ire of some liberal supporters.
“Normally I find AOC a person with moral values… This time however, like a few other times, I have to say that she should have stayed with other members of ‘Squad’,” one person wrote on Twitter. Another said: “AOC makes people believe that she will never compromise and then does.” Meanwhile, an opinion piece accused her vote of being “a tactical mess” and a “worst of both worlds”, and suggested it indicated she may have higher political ambitions.
Describing his actions in his letter, Ocasio-Cortez wrote: “Yes, I cried. I cried over the utter lack of care for the human beings who are affected by these decisions, I cried against an institution choosing a path of maximum volatility and minimum consideration for its own political convenience.
She added: “To those I have disappointed, I am deeply sorry. To those who believe this reasoning is insufficient or cowardly, I understand.
She was not explicit on the reasons for her change of mind, but hinted at a lack of time for substantive community consultation, as well as “hate targeting” and the creation of a ” atmospheric vitriol powder keg.
The $ 1 billion funding for the Iron Dome system, designed to counter short-range rockets and mortars from militants in Gaza, was originally part of the broader government spending bill. However, some Liberals threatened to vote against, upsetting all spending.
As a result, Democratic leaders have instead chosen to remove Israel’s funding provision and make it a stand-alone bill, which passed on Thursday. The procedural maneuver, however, exacerbated tensions between Democrats, with Ocasio-Cortez calling the process “deeply unfair.”
Israel continues to be a fault line in the Democratic Party caucus, with the Iron Dome debate funding the latest issue to pit members of the so-called Squad, a group of liberal lawmakers, against the establishment Democrats.
A high-profile member of the team, Ocasio-Cortez is often a lightning rod for conservative critics, however, in this case, her abstention saw her drift away from her colleagues, most notably Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. , Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., all of whom voted against the bill.
The vote also saw inter-party tensions erupt among Democrats, as Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to sit in Congress, called Israel an “apartheid state,” while Florida Representative Ted Deutch in turn accused him of anti-Semitism.
Amid the fray, Republicans were eager to portray the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel.
“Democrats are NOT supporting Israel,” New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, No.3 in the GOP leadership, wrote on Twitter. “Instead, they choose to side with the Hamas Caucus wing of their party.”
But House Appropriations President Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Said in a statement that “the United States’ commitment to the security of our friend and ally Israel is rock-solid.”
The vote was greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who thanked “Democrats and Republicans alike for the overwhelming support for Israel and for its commitment to its security.”
The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration before it can be enacted.