Schumer Plans Vote of Support Upon Returning From Israel

The Senate will vote early next week on a bipartisan resolution condemning Hamas’s strikes on Israel and pledging to support the Jewish state’s war effort, said Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, who is spending the weekend meeting with Israeli officials to discuss the contours of a future assistance package.

“I’m very hopeful we can pass that by unanimous consent,” Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said of the resolution. When it comes to putting an actual aid package for Israel on the Senate floor, Mr. Schumer said he wanted to consult first with Israeli officials, but “I think the sooner, the better.”

Over the weekend, Mr. Schumer and four other senators — Democrats Jacky Rosen of Nevada and Mark Kelly of Arizona, and Republicans Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mitt Romney of Utah — are expected to meet with a raft of senior Israeli administration officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former defense minister Benny Gantz, who joined with Mr. Netanyahu to form a unity government earlier this week.

The group is also expected to meet with Israelis and Americans who lost loved ones during Hamas’s bloody attack on civilian settlements and military bases last weekend, which killed an estimated 1,300 Israelis. Mr. Schumer said he was shaken, angry and disturbed by the events, and as Congress’s first Jewish majority leader, felt “a passion and an obligation” to make the trip.

Mr. Schumer’s delegation arrives in Israel as the Gaza Strip is reeling from thousands of airstrikes and bracing for a potential ground invasion from Israeli forces, after more than a million residents were told to evacuate the northern part of the enclave.

The rapid escalation of hostilities has prompted a bipartisan outcry for emergency military aid for Israel, as it attempts to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas. It has also sparked pleas for restraint from a swath of Democratic lawmakers, 55 of whom penned a letter to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken urging them to push Israel to resume shipments of food, water, electricity and fuel to the territory, establish a humanitarian corridor, and provide humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians in Gaza as part of any package for Israel.

Mr. Schumer said that he would hold wide-ranging talks with Israeli officials about various forms of aid, including “military, economic and humanitarian, so we can put the best aid package together.” He said one of his chief priorities was aiding Israel in eliminating the threat of Hamas.

“If Hamas still exists, the same thing could happen again. So we have to eliminate the threat presented by Hamas, that is clear,” Mr. Schumer said.

But he also said he supported making humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians part of any Israel deal.

“I’m all for humanitarian aid. I want to figure out the best, fastest and most efficient way to get it delivered,” he added.

It is not clear exactly what timeline or avenues are available to Congress to do that. Mr. Schumer said that in conversations with the White House and his Republican counterpart, Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, a preference had been indicated for approving assistance for Israel and Ukraine as a package deal.

“There’s a general view — not completely decided upon yet — that within the White House, with McConnell and with myself, that Ukraine and Israel will go together,” he said.

That, however, could put the Senate on a collision course with the fractured, Republican-led House, where G.O.P. members have indicated a strong preference for separating the two, as support for Ukraine wanes among some members of the G.OP.

Legislative activity in the House has been frozen as Republican lawmakers struggle to elect a new leader after Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, was ousted as speaker. The party’s current nominee, Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, has said he supports helping Israel, but has demonstrated a strong animus against aid for Ukraine.

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