WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives approved more than $14 billionThursday afternoon setting up House Speaker Mike Johnson’s first major legislative clash with the Senate and White House.
The bill, titled the “Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act” cleared the lower chamber by a vote of 226-196 with most Republicans voting for the legislation and most Democrats voting against it. Two Republicans defected and voted against the bill while twelve Democrats voted for it.
Aid to Israel, a close U.S. ally, as it fights a war against Hamas militants, has garnered widespread bipartisan support, but Johnson’s proposal for standalone Israel funding has drawn considerable backlash from the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House.
pass a broad national security funding bill that includes money for Ukraine and U.S. border security. Johnson’s bill only includes assistance for Israel — from as he seeks to extract conservative policy wins with a narrow GOP majority.
To pay for the Israel assistance, the bill includes a provision pulling back additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service that was originally allocated from the Inflation Reduction Act, a law championed by Biden and congressional Democrats.
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Johnson has argued that while the U.S. must step up to aid Israel, “we have to keep our House in order as well.” House Republicans, JohnsonThursday morning, must return to “fiscal responsibility” and address the national debt.
Johnson has also contended that a standalone Israel funding bill without other foreign aid provisions for U.S. allies is more sensible due to the urgency of the Israel-Hamas war, which broke out in early October.
Senate leadership however has shown no appetite for a standalone bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., derided Johnson’s bill as a “deeply flawed proposal”
Instead, Schumer promised the Senate would craft a bipartisan foreign aid bill that appears to resemble Biden’s broad supplemental request. The Senate’s bill will “include funding for aid to Israel, Ukraine, humanitarian aid including for Gaza, and competition with the Chinese Government.”
Some Democrats voted for Johnson’s proposal but made it clear they supported it begrudgingly.
Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., represents one of the most Jewish districts in the country. He was one of the twelve Democrats who voted for the bill because he felt Israel needed bipartisan support following the Oct. 7 attack, but said it was a “disgusting” political move to force Democrats to choose between funding Israel or the IRS.
“To play politics with Israel in their greatest time of need, our number one ally, the largest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust – that’s who Mike Johnson wanted to be,” Moskowitz said. “It’s just disappointing for a guy who says he lives by the Bible, but he wants to cause problems in the Holy Land.”
Johnson hasn’t found antagonists in only Democrats either –has been adamant Congress should pass wide-ranging foreign aid legislation.
“We don’t have the luxury of closing our gates and hoping for evil to leave us alone,” McConnell said Thursday morning in remarks on the Senate floor, appearing to take a subtle shot at Johnson and other Republicans for pushing a standalone Israel bill. “America’s allies are waking up to that fact. Now is not the time for the leader of the free world to go to sleep.”
issued a veto threat if the House bill makes it to his desk.
the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, said Thursday that Biden wants to see “We wouldn’t have submitted it that way if we did not believe that they all weren’t important and should be acted on together.”
“The president would veto an only-Israel bill. I think that we’ve made that clear,” Kirby said.
Kirby also took aim at Johnson’s legislation for omitting humanitarian assistance that would help get food, water and medical assistance to the people of Gaza as Israel retaliates against Hamas. “That’s got to be a non-starter. That’s nothing more than partisan politics right there,” he said.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., one of the two GOP members who voted against the aid package, said he was concerned about the national debt. Massie told USA TODAY following the vote that “we can’t afford the money” to fund Israel, gesturing to a debt clock pin he wears on his lapel that tracks the national debt.
The resistance from Democrats will cause a standoff with no clear resolution bringing the fate of Israel aid into question.
House Democrats appear happy to cede to the Senate and take up whatever legislationRep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said in a statement prior to the House’s vote on the Israel bill that he would spearhead efforts to pass the Senate’s bill in the lower chamber.
“I cannot support the terribly flawed, weak and dangerous bill Speaker Johnson and the Republicans have on the floor today,” Schneider said. “The Senate will pass a robust, bipartisan aid package. I will lead the charge to pass that package in the House as soon as humanly possible.”
Johnson however, has signaled he won’t back down in the coming fight. The Louisiana Republican saidmultiple cabinet officials and senators and made clear “we’re going to do this in a responsible manner.”
He defended the offset in the Israel bill rescinding money from the IRS even as Schumer dismissed it as a “poison pill.” Johnson, at the news conference, portrayed confidence he could win out.
“We’re trying to get back to the principle of fiscal responsibility here,” Johnson said. “We’re gonna stand for that and I’m going to continue to message that for the American people. And you know what? I suspect they’re with us on it.”
Appearing on Fox Business ahead of the vote, he rejected pressure to bring Biden’s full request to the floor, saying the president’s other requests “deserve a more sober look” and argued for separate debates and discussions.
“So we’re going to handle the Ukraine issue and the border issue probably together (on) the House side,” he said. “We’re in the consensus-building business here. We don’t have a full consensus yet on Ukraine.”
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