WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) assured pro-Israel activists at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference that despite budget-tightening and “all these fiscal challenges, I will guarantee you, I will take my most conservative member and they’ll want to cut anything in the budget except the aid to Israel because they know the importance of it.”
“Very true,” agreed Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), appearing alongside his friend McCarthy on the Verizon Center stage. “…The partnership that has maintained now since 1948 is one that’s going to continue, I know if Kevin and I have anything to say about it, as long as we are in the Congress and working together.”
Hoyer later added that “the overwhelming majority of the members of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate agree that investing in Israel is an investment in America’s security, America’s values, America’s future.”
“Now, I want to caution, though, everybody here. There has been a proposal, I do not know whether that will be followed through, of cutting very severely our foreign aid,” he continued. “I do not believe that that will adversely affect Israel, but what I do believe to the extent that it is further and further cut and Israel becomes a larger and larger percentage, it will then be a focus and may well raise controversy not that we don’t need to support Israel, but that we have so little going to other places where we need to maintain security. General Mattis has pointed that out.”
“…We need to make sure not only does Israel’s support remain strong, but that we also remain strong with other nations not only in the Middle East, but around the world to make sure that we maintain our alliances that will be good for Israel and good for us.”
McCarthy added that Israel is “the place we need to be.”
“When we do, we look at our budget, why don’t we fund our friends first?” he said. “That’s why Israel will always win and always be the first investment of where we go.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told AIPAC that “no single political spat or public disagreement can sever our historic alliance with Israel but, it can erode trust — and I think the actions of this past administration damaged this trust.”
“But now, now, it is time to turn the page. We have a new president. We have a president who I’ve gotten to know quite well. And let me assure you, right here and right now, President Donald Trump’s commitment to Israel is sacrosanct. Congress’s commitment to Israel is sacrosanct,” he promised.
Ryan said the Iran nuclear deal “has been an unmitigated disaster” and it’s “long past time that we rigorously enforce this deal and hold the Iranians accountable when they violate it.”
“…We can’t embrace this deal as a fait accompli. We must reserve the right to explore options aimed at addressing its most fatal flaws, the sunset provisions, insufficient inspections, an acceptance of Iran centrifuge development. So when it comes to preventing a nuclear Iran, all options can and must remain on the table.”
The U.S. needs to “consider” designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, he added.
The Speaker slammed the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as “an insidious campaign of political and economic warfare designed to undermine Israel.”
“The BDS movement is nothing short of another incarnation of anti-Semitism,” he said. “That’s what this is. Let’s not be fooled by those who tell us this is about peace. This has never been about peace. In fact, it only makes a lasting agreement between Israelis and Palestinians more unlikely. No, this is about one thing and one thing only; Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish democratic state. That’s what this is all about.”
Ryan said he believes a Mideast peace deal is possible, and President Trump said he’s made forging an agreement a priority for his administration, but “how can we ask Israel to make peace with a Palestinian Authority that forms a unity government with Hamas?”
“How can we ask Israel to make peace with a government that incites anti-Semitism and then goes and names public squares after terrorists?” he asked. “How can we ask Israel to offer painful concessions in the name of peace when the other side still refuses to acknowledge her right to exist?”