Senate Stalls on ICC Punishment Bill Amid White House Resistance


Senate negotiations over a bill to punish the International Criminal Court have reached an impasse as the White House resists attempts to sanction the body.

Republicans in the Senate have attempted to move the GOP-led bill, which passed the House last week with the help of 42 Democrats, following the ICC prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants for top leaders of both Israel and Hamas. However, the White House has opposed it, suggesting there are “more effective ways to defend Israel” as it faces scrutiny over its war in Gaza.

A flurry of talks that began on a bipartisan basis after the ICC pursued warrants against Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, have since lost momentum, according to a source familiar with the matter.

“There were numerous phone calls between a bipartisan group of senators who were galvanized to work on legislation regarding doing something on the ICC, but over the course of the last three weeks, that motivation seems to have gone away,” the source said.

Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) is even threatening to hold up action on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to Punchbowl News, unless Democrats agree to consider a version of the bill.

Asked about the standoff, Risch spokeswoman Suzanne Wrasse said that “our staff will continue to work with the majority staff on finding a path forward to move legislation before the summer’s end.”

“Senator Risch is willing to pursue multiple avenues for the Senate to work on ICC legislation, but despite several offers made by Risch and his colleagues to negotiate, Democrats have not responded substantively, and we haven’t made progress,” she added.

Risch posted on X last week that he expects the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to take up the House ICC bill at its next business meeting.

Democrats have expressed an openness to a bipartisan compromise, but the White House has expressed reservations about the scope of the House bill.

“We fundamentally reject the ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in late May. “Sanctions on the ICC, however, we do not believe is an effective or an appropriate path forward.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin (D-MD) accused House Republicans of playing politics with Israel.

“It was deeply disappointing to see House Republicans push a divisive partisan bill on the ICC Prosecutor’s application for warrants rather than pursuing a sensible, bipartisan approach,” Cardin said in a statement.

“Defending Israel from this flawed and biased prosecution deserves the same united support we share for the entire U.S.-Israel relationship,” Cardin added. “Political maneuvering by Republicans have made a bipartisan bill more difficult, but I have continued talks with those Republicans who are genuinely interested in a bipartisan path forward.”

With recess scheduled for parts of June, July, August, and October, Republicans are emphasizing that time is running out to get legislation passed in the next few months.

Samantha-Jo Roth
Samantha-Jo Roth
Samantha-Jo Roth covers Congress and campaigns, specifically focusing on the Senate. She previously worked as an on-air correspondent, covering the Florida congressional delegation for Spectrum News. Her reporting on a mysterious disease killing coral off the coast of Florida was nominated for a regional Emmy. She also covered Capitol Hill and national politics for Gray Television.

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