Thursday’s House vote on the foreign operations bill provided Democrats with an opportunity in the latest round of the never-ending “who is better for Israel” debate. Having been bashed on this issue in the past, House Democrats now came up with a winning card.
It all started with a memo distributed by the Republican leadership asking staffers to “advise your boss” to vote against the foreign aid bill, because it ignores President Bush’s “Mexico City policy” — which maintains that no U.S. aid will be given for foreign programs that allow abortions.
178 Republicans listened to the advice and voted against the bill, which passed with 241 supporters.
The problem is that voting against foreign aid doesn’t look too good with pro-Israel activists, since Israel is the single largest aid recipient, with an annual $2.4 billion.
Not to worry. The Republican leadership added a note to the memo saying:
Members are advised that the Leadership has drafted a letter to AIPAC affirming Republican support for Israel funding, not withstanding final passage of this bill. This letter will be available for Members to sign at the Leadership Desk on the floor tonight. A copy of that letter is attached.
Will the letter be enough to do the trick?
Aipac sources said that they expected Republicans to vote against the bill because of the “Mexico City policy” issue and that they don’t see the vote as a change in policy.
But that doesn’t mean the Republicans are off the hook.
The National Jewish Democratic Council’s executive director Ira Forman is calling the Republican actions “a cynical act of political hypocrisy” and goes on to quote Aipac itself about how important supporting the bill is for Israel.