Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) said Thursday that now is “not the time” to attack the Biden administration in the wake of Israel’s ongoing conflict with Palestinian militant group Hamas.
“I want to speak to my Republican and Democrat colleagues here in Washington, D.C. — this is not a time to attack the Biden administration,” Orden said in an interview with Fox News. “You know how adamantly I disagree with what they’re doing, but as Republicans and Democrats, as legislators here in the Untied States of America, now’s not the time to attack the Biden administration; now’s the time to stand with the United States of America.”
“That means the executive branch and the military to make sure that Israel understands that they have our unwavering support,” he continued. “So I’m calling on my Republican colleagues, our Democrat colleagues, let’s get together.”
In the wake of the attack from Hamas, which has the support of Iran, a growing chorus of Republicans have called on President Biden to freeze the $6 billion transfer previously approved in the U.S.’s prisoner swap with Tehran last month. In the deal, the Biden administration granted clemency to five Iranians and issued a blanket waiver for international banks to allow the transfer of $6 billion of Iranian oil sale proceeds, frozen in South Korea, to a bank in Qatar.
While U.S. officials have said the money is only for humanitarian use, some lawmakers argued the funds may have freed up resources for Iran’s military spending and support of Hamas.
A handful of Democrats including Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) have joined the Republican calls to “immediately freeze” the $6 billion transfer.
It is still not completely known exactly what role Iran may have played in Hamas’s attacks, though Tehran has signaled it is increasingly willing to damage U.S. allies.
U.S. deputy national security adviser Jonathan Finer said Monday that Iran was “broadly complicit” in the Hamas attacks, pointing to the country’s efforts to train and provide the group with arms.
A spokesman for Hamas told the BBC that the group received support from Iran and other benefactors for its attacks on Israel.
The Biden administration’s response to the attacks has also came under fire from some lawmakers, including Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.), who said he is in Israel “doing Biden’s job” helping Americans get home.
Mills said the Biden administration’s weakness “invites the aggression and Iran, China, Russia and North Korea” and claimed the administration prioritizes “wokeness” instead of the freedom and safety of U.S. citizens.
At least 22 Americans are among the more than 2,500 individuals killed so far in the conflict, and U.S. officials have confirmed Americans are also among those taken hostage by Hamas.
In the hours that followed Hamas’s initial surprise attack, Biden vowed the U.S.’s “rock solid and unwavering support” for Israel.
Since then, he has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on multiple occasions and said Tuesday he met with his national security team each day since the attacks began Saturday.
Biden on Tuesday condemned the “abhorrent” terrorist attacks by Hamas, while backing Israel’s right to respond with force.
A U.S. carrier strike group was moved closer to Israel Tuesday to “deter any actor” looking to escalate or widen the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the White House said.
The strike group includes the U.S. Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier, along with multiple missile cruisers and missile destroyers. The Pentagon is also taking steps to bolster the U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft squadrons in the region, according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.