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Fact Checking Claims That Biden Issued an Executive Order to Send Israel Munitions
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Fact Checking Claims That Biden Issued an Executive Order to Send Israel Munitions

Such sales are allowed under the Arms Export Control Act.

President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House on May 12, 2023. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

An X user with 165,000 followers who goes by the handle Megatron claimed in a recent post that President Joe Biden had signed an executive order to send ammunition to Israel, bypassing Congress in the process. Another post by user AfroVT built on the claim by complaining that Biden declined to take similar actions on a host of other issues. It garnered 96,000 likes and more than 31,00 retweets. That claim, in turn, has also gone viral after being shared on Instagram. 

The claim that Biden signed an executive order sending ammunition to Israel is false. On December 29, Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the provisional sale of 155mm artillery projectiles to the Israeli government. He did so using emergency powers afforded by the Arms Export Control Act, not via executive order. Further, the Biden administration has issued executive orders related to many of the other policy issues mentioned in the post.

Since the October 7 attack by Hamas terrorists on Israeli civilian and military targets, the U.S. government has—in continuation of its historic diplomatic and military support of Israel—supplied the state with significant amounts of combat equipment. In early December, Blinken approved the sale of 120mm anti-tank cartridges to Israel and notified Congress of the deal. The December 29 sale represented an increase to a number of previous transfers approximating $96.51 million, and brought the total sale’s estimated value to $147.5 million. 

Typically, congressional approval is required for major sales of military services or equipment to foreign governments. Under Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act—passed in June 1976—the sale of munitions totalling $50 million or more must go through congressional review. 

However, an emergency provision in the act delegates to the president the right to waive congressional review in cases where the immediate sale of equipment is a U.S. national security interest. Blinken, having “determined and provided detailed justification to Congress that an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale to the Government of Israel of the above defense articles and services in the national security interests of the United States,” waived congressional review requirements with the December 29 sale. Section 3(b) of the act specifies that consent for immediate emergency transfers to Japan, Australia, South Korea, Israel, New Zealand, or any NATO member state shall not become effective until 15 days following the submission of that consent, and Congress may enact a joint resolution within that period prohibiting the transfer. 

Contrary to the claims made in the viral Instagram post, Biden has made a number of executive orders related to issues including abortion and reproductive rights, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and gun crime. Following the June 24, 2022, Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade, the Biden administration issued two executive orders intended to protect abortion access. He has also issued 15 orders directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic and six pertaining to action on climate change. 

No executive orders were made in direct relation to the 2023 Hawaii wildfires, though a federal disaster declaration was issued to support the state. Likewise, despite not issuing any executive orders specifically on school shootings, Biden did announce an order related to curbing broader gun violence in March 2023 following a shooting that killed 11 at a dance studio in Monterey Park, California. While it is undoubtedly true that Biden issued no executive orders related to the large-scale Black Lives Matter protests that rocked the country following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, these occurred well before his January 2021 presidential inauguration.

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.