The House voted for the measure 420 to 9.
However, Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to effectively abstain attracted ire from some liberal supporters.
“Normally I find AOC a person with moral values … This time though, as a few other times, I must say she should’ve stuck with other “Squad” members,” wrote one person on Twitter. Another said, “AOC primes people to believe she will never compromise, then does.” Meanwhile, an opinion piece accused her vote of being “a tactical mess” and a “worst-of-both-worlds solution,” and suggested that it indicated she could have higher political ambitions.
Describing her actions in her letter, Ocasio-Cortez wrote: “Yes, I wept. I wept at the complete lack of care for the human beings that are impacted by these decisions, I wept at an institution choosing a path of maximum volatility and minimum consideration for its own political convenience.”
She added: “To those I have disappointed — I am deeply sorry. To those who believe this reasoning is insufficient or cowardice — I understand.”
She was not explicit about the reasons for her change of heart but hinted at a lack of time for substantive community consultation, as well as “hateful targeting” and the creation of an atmospheric “tinderbox of vitriol.”
As a result, Democratic leaders opted to instead strip out the Israel funding provision and make it a stand-alone bill, which passed on Thursday. The procedural maneuver, however, inflamed tensions among Democrats, with Ocasio-Cortez slamming the process as “deeply unjust.”
Israel continues to be a fault line across the Democratic Party caucus, with the debate over the Iron Dome funding the latest issue to pit members of the so-called Squad, a group of liberal House members, against establishment Democrats.
A high-profile member of the Squad, Ocasio-Cortez is often a lightning rod for conservative criticism. However, in this case, her abstention saw her break away from fellow Squad members Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), all of whom voted against the bill.
Tlaib, the first Palestinian American woman to serve in Congress, called Israel an “apartheid state,” while Rep. Ted Deutch (Fla.) in response accused her of antisemitism.
Amid the fray, Republicans were eager to paint the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel.
“Democrats do NOT support Israel,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), the No. 3 in House GOP leadership, wrote on Twitter. “Instead they choose to side with the Hamas Caucus wing of their Party.”
But House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement that the United States’ “commitment to the security of our friend and ally Israel is ironclad.”
The vote was welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who thanked “Democrats and Republicans alike, for the overwhelming support for Israel and for the commitment to its security.”
The bill moves to the Senate.