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White House walks diplomatic tightrope on Israel amid contradictory messaging: 'You can't have it both ways'

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White House walks diplomatic tightrope on Israel amid contradictory messaging: 'You can't have it both ways'

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The Biden administration has been taking criticism as of late for what some have described as conflicting messaging on key subjects relating to the United States’ top Mideast ally: Israel.

During a daily briefing last week, Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich pressed White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the administration’s attestation to an “ironclad commitment” to Israel while “slow-walk[ing] arms sales.”

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Jean-Pierre replied, in part, by reiterating America’s commitment to Israeli security remains “ironclad.”

Meanwhile, President Biden himself pledged that if the Israel Defense Forces incur substantively into the southern Gazan city of Rafah, “I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities – that deal with that problem.”

BLINKEN DELIVERS STRONGEST REBUKE OF ISRAEL YET: ‘GET OUT OF GAZA’

Several lawmakers have taken issue with the administration’s stance, including Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chair of the House Armed Services Committee, who called the president’s recent tack “another shortsighted decision by Biden that undermines our allies, emboldens our adversaries, and sends the message that the U.S. is unreliable.”

“Our adversaries would love nothing more than to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Israel,” Rogers told Fox News Digital in a statement Friday. “Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas and Iran.”

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Rogers’ counterpart in the Senate, Armed Services Committee ranking member Roger Wicker, R-Miss., also called out Biden over a May 8 Associated Press report that the U.S. indeed paused a shipment of bombs in response to Israel potentially making a decision on a “full-scale assault” on Rafah.

“If Hamas laid down its weapons, the war would be over. But if Israel lays down its weapons, it would be the end of Israel,” Wicker said. 

MIKE PENCE ACCUSES BIDEN OF IMPEACHMENT HYPOCRISY

“Unfortunately, President Biden has this backwards. He has withheld arms for our staunchest ally one day then professed solidarity with the Jewish people the next,” the Magnolia State lawmaker added.

Former National Security Council official Victoria Coates said of the administration’s conflicting messaging, “you can’t have it both ways.”

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“You’re going to have to pick a team and put on a jersey and get in a fight. And the administration is desperately trying to please both sides,” Coates said.

“And what they’ve achieved is that both sides are very angry with them. So, you know, it’s it’s just a massive failure both on the policy and the political front.”

Two other GOP senators, Ted Budd of North Carolina and Joni Ernst of Iowa, wrote the White House a detailed letter demanding issue-specific answers from Biden on his comments on arms sales and Rafah.

Some of the questions posed included demands on which types of ammunition are reportedly being withheld, whether any arms withheld were part of those directly approved by Congress in a recent supplemental appropriation, and how such reports square with the president’s April 23 pledge to “make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Iran and terrorists it supports.”

“Why did your administration fail to notify Congress about this decision to withhold assistance to Israel?” Ernst and Budd asked in the letter. 

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“We must give Israel the arms it needs to fight the Hamas terrorists that continue to hold Americans hostage. We call on your administration to immediately restart the weapons shipments to Israel today.”

In a statement, Budd told Fox News Digital one of his constituents, Keith Siegel, remains in Hamas captivity along with seven other U.S. citizens.

“President Biden is making it harder to secure the hostages’ freedom,” Budd said.

Another Republican lawmaker, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul of Texas, called the threat of an arms embargo a “dangerous mistake” and “shortsighted.”

On his Fox News program, “Life, Liberty & Levin,” former Reagan Justice Department chief of staff Mark Levin went so far as to say Biden’s actions have renewed “ancient blood libels against Jews.”

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Stateside, Biden has condemned the “ferocious surge of antisemitism in America” and said that “there’s the right to protest, but not the right to cause chaos” only after he tried to clean up comments made during a press gaggle where he said, “I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians …”

The administration has been criticized for declining to take a tough stance against criminal acts committed by some anti-Israel agitators on college campuses or call on law enforcement to step in.

In April, 27 Republican senators wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to demand an update on any efforts to curb the “outbreak of anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist mobs on college campuses.”

“These pro-Hamas rioters have effectively shut down college campuses and have literally chased Jewish students away from our schools,” the letter reads in part. “The Department of Education and federal law enforcement must act immediately to restore order, prosecute the mobs who have perpetuated violence and threats against Jewish students, revoke the visas of all foreign nationals (such as exchange students) who have taken part in promoting terrorism, and hold accountable school administrators who have stood by instead of protecting their students.”

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In response to the protests, Rep. Michael Lawler, R-N.Y., of whose district 90,000 Jewish U.S. citizens call home, drafted the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which successfully passed the House, 320-91, with some “nay” votes falling on grounds the bill would purportedly infringe upon First Amendment rights. Lawler’s office did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Fox News Digital reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich, Bradford Betz, Greg Norman and Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.

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Kevin McCarthy's ghost is haunting House GOPs' next big legislative fight

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Kevin McCarthy's ghost is haunting House GOPs' next big legislative fight

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He has been out of Congress for nearly half a year, but the shadow of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is still looming large over the House of Representatives as lawmakers get ready for another intense government funding fight.

Last year, McCarthy agreed to suspend the U.S. debt limit through January 2025 in exchange for federal spending caps for the next two fiscal years, a deal he struck with President Biden called the Fiscal Responsibility Act. Under its terms, discretionary government funding can only grow by 1% in fiscal year 2025.

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House appropriators are now wrestling with how to navigate that cap without severely impacting Homeland Security and Defense spending. Fiscal conservatives want negotiators to stick to the statutory cap, which is roughly $1.606 trillion. Defense hawks, meanwhile, are concerned about the effects of a meager increase and worry it could amount to a spending cut on national security when accounting for inflation.

“That was a deal that McCarthy made, right? He’s not here anymore. But our hands might still, legally, be tied to it,” one GOP lawmaker told Fox News Digital. 

WHY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS DECIDE THEY ‘GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE’

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy may have left Congress, but his deal with President Biden is still playing a decisive role in the latest government funding talks. (Photo by Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“I understand what the intent of the FRA was, but… the caps as written prevent us from effectively keeping pace with China. So, whatever is needed between leadership, the Senate and the president to allow us a little more maneuvering space in terms of the allocations between the federal agencies and the 12 bills, I think is necessary.”

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Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern, R-Okla., conceded that “sure” the caps constrained negotiators but urged them to work toward it as written.

“Honestly, I’m having a difficult time figuring out why it’s so hard for us to establish the numbers. I mean, it was agreed to a two-year cap. You know, $1.606 trillion is the number, but it’s like everybody’s struggling to figure out what it really is,” Hern said.

He noted that fiscal year 2024’s government funding level was “a little bit higher” than the agreed-upon $1.59 trillion, thanks to “some sidebar deals that all of us found out about afterwards.”

“But this cap is $1.606, and with no backroom cigar smoke-filled room deals. So we’ll see where my colleague Congressman Cole comes up with the appropriations,” Hern said.

NATIONAL SECURITY HAWKS WARN CONGRESS THROWING PENTAGON ‘UNDER THE BUS’ WITH ‘INADEQUATE’ SPENDING BUMP

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Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) arrives to a caucus meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole said the Fiscal Responsibility Act is “the law” when asked if it constrained him. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

When asked about whether he felt constrained by the FRA, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., told Fox News Digital, “I mean, that’s the law, so we’re going to mark it up to what the law tells us to mark up to.”

Rep. Jake Ellzey, R-Texas, a member of the Appropriations Committee, similarly said, “We’re doing the best we can, it’s the law of the land. So you do what you can with what you’ve got — if frogs had wings, they’d be a lot more successful on not hitting their rear end when they jump.”

He also suggested that there would be certain hurdles brought by the FRA. “Based on the FRA, most of those bills are going to take a shave except for Defense and Homeland. And of course, even with the increase for those two, it’s a net decrease because of inflation, so real dollars are still getting cut no matter which spending bill you’re talking about,” Ellzey said.

“Chairman Cole has already made some good, hard, strategic decisions…so we’ve got some clear pictures of where we’re going, and we’re going to be far more aggressive on getting those bills done on time this year.”

Indeed, House GOP leaders are eyeing an ambitious schedule to get all 12 individual spending bills that fund the U.S. government passed well before the Sept. 30 deadline at the end of the fiscal year.

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SENATE PASSES MAMMOTH $1.2T SPENDING PACKAGE AFTER BRIEF PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Rep. Jake Ellzey

Rep. Jake Ellzey conceded that appropriators were constrained somewhat but expressed confidence in Rep. Tom Cole’s leadership. (Getty Images)

Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., outlined a legislative calendar that would have them passed before Congress embarks on a monthlong August recess during a closed-door House GOP conference meeting earlier this week, a source familiar with his comments told Fox News Digital.

Last year’s government funding fight was marked by chaos and disagreements within the House GOP as members on the right of the conference pushed leaders to leverage a government shutdown in exchange for deeper spending cuts, while other Republicans sounded the alarm on the economic and political ramifications a shutdown would have.

The fight over funding the government in fiscal year 2024 was among the factors that led to McCarthy’s historic ouster last October.

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Fox News Digital reached out to a representative for the former speaker for comment.

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Newsom turns to suburban moms to bankroll Arizona abortion plan

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Newsom turns to suburban moms to bankroll Arizona abortion plan

Staring down a state budget deficit, Gov. Gavin Newsom needed money fast to fund his latest ambition for California.

So he turned to an influential voting bloc with a knack for fundraising: suburban moms from the Midwest.

The Democratic governor Thursday signed into law a bill that temporarily allows Arizona abortion providers to practice in California in order to help cope with an influx of patients crossing the state border in the two years since the Supreme Court ended nationwide abortion rights.

As soon as Newsom unveiled it last month, Red Wine & Blue — an organization headquartered in Ohio and dedicated to engaging suburban women in progressive causes — rushed to bankroll the initiative with the launch of the Arizona Freedom Trust. Participants nationwide have so far raised more than $100,000 for the cause, enough to help more than 200 Arizonans get abortions in California, they estimate. Their goal is half a million dollars.

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“This is our biggest, most direct effort to help women impacted by abortion bans,” Red Wine & Blue founder Katie Paris says in a video as she sits in front of her children’s watercolor paintings inside her home in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

“Creating the types of communities that we want to live in means reaching out with our hands and our hearts to our neighbors. When we come together to care for and support each other, we are unstoppable.”

Since Newsom announced the initiative, abortion concerns have somewhat settled in Arizona: Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs signed a bill that repeals an April court decision that reinstated a law from 1864 that would have banned most abortions in the state. Arizona Atty. Gen. Kris Mayes, a Democrat, has warned that abortion access in the state remains “in flux” as the repeal can’t go into effect yet.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruling was what prompted Newsom’s bill, but his office said it will serve as “a critical backstop” regardless of what happens, as California abortion providers have reported a surge in patients since abortion access was rolled back in 2022, including Arizonans. Even without the Civil War-era law, Arizona limits abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy and makes no exceptions for rape or incest. California generally allows abortions until 24 weeks.

“To Arizona people of child-bearing age, and those who love and support them, we have your back, at least until you get the chance to reverse this attack on your rights on the Arizona ballot this November,” Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), an author of SB 233, said Tuesday after the bill cleared the Senate floor.

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Newsom’s decision to lean on a grassroots organization headquartered 2,400 miles from Sacramento is telling of the political power of suburban women — and the governor’s gaze beyond California.

It’s not the first time Newsom has gone after other state’s abortion policies as he works to get President Biden reelected and raises his own national profile. Last month, he launched TV ads in Alabama, slamming the state for banning abortion. He also signed a law last year that allows doctors in states where abortion is banned to receive training in California.

This time, he’s embarking on a project that allows him to forge inroads with residents of critical swing states. The approach also allows Newsom to advance a new initiative without dipping into California’s budget, as he makes tough decisions about how to close the state’s massive budget deficit.

Newsom spokesperson Omar Rodriguez said the newest legislation is about “stepping up to help others” and that Red Wine & Blue is equipped to “mobilize suburban women and others across the country who are impacted or deeply concerned by other states’ regressive policies.”

Though white suburban women were among the voters who helped elect Republican Donald Trump in 2016, that same demographic shifted to help elect Biden in 2020.

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Now, both Biden and Trump are vying for suburban voters — and the future of abortion access is key. A recent Wall Street Journal poll of battleground states including Pennsylvania and Georgia found that 39% of suburban women consider abortion issues critical to their vote and that most believe Trump’s positions are too restrictive.

Sara Sadhwani, a professor of politics at Pomona College who specializes in voting behavior and interest groups, said suburban women are increasingly influential at the polls. She pointed to research that shows the suburbs are becoming more racially diverse and that more women are going to college. Polling has shown that voters with degrees are more likely to lean Democrat.

“The suburbs are changing. Suburban women in particular are becoming incredibly more diverse, and that has real political implications,” Sadhwani said. “We certainly have far more women today who are educated, who are outspoken. The feminist movements have had an incredible effect on female voters … there were so many stories about how suburban women would listen to who their husbands wanted them to vote for, whereas today we know women are very independent-minded and make those choices for themselves.”

The governor’s national reach on abortion has been criticized by Republicans who say he should pay more attention to California, which is grappling with homelessness and the cost of living. Republicans on the California Senate floor this week questioned the need for the Arizona bill.

“Abortion is already free and ubiquitous in California,” the California Catholic Conference, which opposes SB 233, said in a statement.

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In Arizona, Republicans are already working to thwart a campaign to put the question of abortion rights to voters on a ballot measure, as California did with Proposition 1 in 2022.

Arizona Rep. Rachel Jones, a Republican who voted to keep the more restrictive abortion ban in place, said she was “disgusted” by Hobbs’ reversal. “Life is one of the tenets of our Republican platform. To see people go back on that value is egregious to me,” she said.

Paris, the Ohio activist tapped by Newsom, founded Red Wine & Blue after the 2018 midterm elections in an effort to help Democrats build power, a reflection of female voters who were both appalled and inspired to become involved after Trump’s presidency.

Since then, the organization has expanded to states including North Carolina and Michigan and taken on Republican-backed issues such as book bans and LGBTQ+ school debates, in addition to reproductive rights.

“Suburban women have kind of gotten tired of other people speaking for us, and we want to speak for ourselves,” Paris said. “We do not all look alike, think alike or drive matching minivans. Our lives are more complicated than that. And we are pretty tired of pundits and politicians telling us what we need.”

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The U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn abortion rights pushed more women into action, Paris said. She watched as hundreds of thousands of women across the country shared their own abortion stories and political fears and frustrations in a massive private Facebook page run by Red Wine & Blue.

“We don’t care what’s in the wine glass,” Paris said, referring to her organization’s name. “The important part is that when women get together, we get s— done.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Senator blasts federal parks officials for reportedly barring American flags in beloved national park

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Senator blasts federal parks officials for reportedly barring American flags in beloved national park

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Officials at Alaska’s famed Denali National Park are taking heat after allegedly telling construction crews at the park not to fly the American flag.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, penned a letter to National Park Service Director Charles Sams demanding an explanation for the alleged actions of officials at Denali National Park, noting that the alleged demand for the bridge construction crew to remove the flag was made on the “eve of Memorial Day weekend.”

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The claim appears to have originated in a report by the Alaska Watchman, a local conservative news outlet that cited an anonymous construction worker at the park. Fox News Digital has been unable to independently verify the details of the report, but a National Parks Service official disputed the account.

ALITO SAYS WIFE DISPLAYED UPSIDE-DOWN FLAG AFTER ARGUMENT WITH INSULTING NEIGHBOR

This view shows Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, in Denali National Park, Alaska. (Lance King/Getty Images/File)

In his letter, Sullivan said that one of the construction vehicles involved in the project had a 3-by-5 foot American flag affixed to it, but for “reasons that remain unclear, someone at the National Park Service (NPS) caused the construction crew to remove the American flag.”

“This is an outrage – particularly in the lead-up to our most solemn national holiday, Memorial Day, a time when Americans come together to honor those that gave their lives in service to our nation, while wearing our country’s flag,” Sullivan wrote. “The American flag, especially on Memorial Day weekend, should be celebrated, not censored by federal government employees.”

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The Alaska senator noted that he could find no regulations that would prohibit the flying of American flags on public land, arguing that such a regulation would be odd given that the purpose of national parks is for “the enjoyment of American citizens.”

Dan Sullivan

Sen. Dan Sullivan (Brandon Bell/Pool/Getty Images/File)

ANTISEMITIC RIOT AT COLUMBIA REACHES BOILING POINT AS AGITATORS TAKE OVER ACADEMIC BUILDING, BARRICADE DOORS

Sullivan concluded by demanding that Sams investigate the incident and take steps to “ensure an incident like this does not happen again in American national parks.”

DENALI, ALASKA - SEPTEMBER 17: A landscape is seen on September 17, 2019 near Denali, Alaska. Permafrost which is found to some extent beneath nearly 85 percent of Alaska has been melting due to earths rising temperatures. Reports indicate that as the permafrost melts, it releases carbon dioxide which adds to the greenhouse gas effect that continues to warm the planet. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

This view shows the landscape near Denali, Alaska, on Sept. 17, 2019. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A National Park Service spokesperson told Fox Digital the incident never happened.

“Reports that a National Park Service (NPS) official ordered the removal of an American flag from a Denali bridge construction worker’s vehicle at Denali National Park are false,” said Peter Christian in a statement. “At no time did an NPS official seek to ban the American flag from the project site or associated vehicles.”

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The flag is flown throughout the park, and the NPS doesn’t have any authority over contractors, he said. 

“The NPS neither administers the bridge project contract, nor has the authority to enforce terms or policies related to the contract or contractors performing the work,” Christian said. “The American flag can be seen at various locations within Denali National Park – at park facilities and campsites, on public and private vehicles, and at employee residences – and we welcome its display this Memorial Day weekend and every day.”

The incident also sparked an apparent protest from Alaska residents, who organized a “patriotic convoy with flags” from Fairbanks to Denali National Park on Sunday. The protest, which was organized on Facebook, had 23 confirmed participants and more than 100 interested as of Sunday morning.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with comment from the National Park Service.

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