Senate leaders returned to the floor Monday afternoon for the first time since their Columbus Day recess, which was particularly busy with codels to China and Israel, and behind-the-scenes conversations with the White House about an emergency funding package to Israel.
‘We want to move this package quickly,’ Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor. ‘The Senate must go first — I know that the House is in disarray, but we cannot wait for them. The needs are too great, and if we pass a strong package, with strong bipartisan support, it will import to in the House somehow or other to act despite the morass they are in.’
Schumer led a delegation of bipartisan lawmakers to the Holy Land over the weekend, just a few days after he cut his codel to China short last week. He said on the floor the trip pushed back ‘in a significant way against the dangerous false equivalency between what Hamas is doing and the response against them.’
‘Let us be clear. Hamas is an evil organization that wants to see Israel wiped off the face of the map. They don’t believe in a two-state solution,’ he said.
While in Israel, Schumer and Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Bill Cassidy, R-La., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., had to shelter on two separate occasions due to Hamas rocket attacks.
‘For us, the danger was momentary, thank God, But it’s harrowing to think that Israelis are going through this and much greater horrors every single day,’ he said.
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., echoed Schumer’s support for Israel and said, ‘The surest way to stop against Israelis and oppression of Palestinians is to wipe terrorists like Hamas from the face of the earth.’
‘To that end, the United States must provide maximum support to Israel’s counterterrorist operation, as long as it takes,’ he said.
The upper chamber was briefed on a call last week by the administration on a ‘mega package’ request that would combine aid to Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and border security, according to a source familiar.
Attorney and former secretary of the treasury Jack Lew – nominated to be ambassador to Israel — will have a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. A vote will be scheduled following the hearing. Lew served in both the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin put a significant number of U.S. troops on standby to ‘be ready to deploy,’ over the weekend, though officials say the U.S. role would not be for combat. The surprise attack on Israel has killed at least 1,400 people and wounded thousands others.
Fox News’ Greg Wehner contributed to this report.