PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Congressmen Darin LaHood (R) and Eric Sorensen (D) have weighed in on Congress’ role in assisting Israel in its war with Hamas.
Twenty-two Americans have been killed by Hamas and at least 17 Americans are unaccounted for, of which “a number” are hostages, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on Wednesday.
Congressman Darin LaHood, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said they are working with their Israeli counterparts and others in the Middle East to rescue the hostages safely.
“As we look at the information coming in on the hostages, there is a lot of uncertainty there,” LaHood said. “Our intelligence community here in the United States and our military is doing everything possible to work with likeminded allies where we can to get them out safely, find out where they’re at, how many there are, and our number one goal is to get them out in a safe and secure way.”
LaHood said hostage rescue missions will likely involve Special Forces and/or Navy SEALs.
“That will be a call that the administration will have to make on whether they’ll be there, but traditional boots on the ground from our U.S. military is at this point not an option,” he said.
The House Intelligence Committee is also investigating any Russian or Iranian involvement in Hamas’ attack on Israel, including a recent meeting between a Hamas leader and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Potential classified information disclosures to Russia are also being investigated “at the highest level”, LaHood said.
LaHood said they are also keeping an eye on Hezbollah, the Iran-aligned terror group based in Lebanon.
“We’re closely monitoring the southern part of Lebanon and the northern border of Israel to make sure that Hezbollah does not make the mistake of attacking Israel from the north. That would have drastic ramifications for Lebanon and for obviously Israel,” said LaHood.
The U.S. also deployed the USS Gerald R. Ford, one of the Navy’s largest aircraft carriers, to the Mediterranean as a deterrent to Hezbollah and other would-be agitators.
“Hopefully this raises more awareness on why we need to address Hezbollah, why we need to cut off the head of the snake, which is Iran and their proxies,” said LaHood.
Congressman Eric Sorensen said the attacks are personal for him since he visited Israel as part of a Congressional delegation seven weeks prior.
“I got to meet the parents, I got to pet their dogs, I got to give high-fives to the kids, and this is the community that was ambushed, where these children have died horrific deaths. I met those children seven weeks ago. We need to picture our own children today, and say ‘What is this worth?’, he said.
Sorensen said Congress’ ability to help Israel maintain her independence and democracy depends on Republicans electing a new House speaker as soon as possible.
“Israel’s success depends on our reaction in Congress. And right now, we have no way to proceed. So we need to have a Speaker of the House, and I hope the Speaker of the House is announced and elected today. We have to make sure we stand up with Israel to make sure this doesn’t escalate. To make sure the likes of Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, stay put and stay calm because an escalation would draw us in even further,” he said.
Republicans nominated House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) in a secret vote on Wednesday morning. Scalise defeated House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) by 113 to 99 votes.
LaHood said he voted for Scalise because of his track record of conservative values and demonstrated ability to work across the aisle to achieve bipartisan results.
“He’s had a track record of working through adversity. I think he’s had a track record of bringing people together. There’s been a number of bills that he has been able to work on in a bipartisan way as part of the leadership, both when we’re in the minority and in the majority…I think he brings a wealth of experience, a lot of energy and great conservative ideas to lead our party,” he said.
LaHood said he hopes Scalise is elected speaker by the end of the week. The first order of business will be bipartisan action to assist Israel.