House GOP’s $14.3 billion Israel aid sets up collision course with Senate

Oct 30, 2023, 8:54 PM

The House has released text of its planned Israel funding bill, appropriating $14.3 billion dollars...

The House has released text of its planned Israel funding bill, appropriating $14.3 billion dollars to aid the country, setting up one of the first leadership tests for newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, seen here, on Oct. 28, in Las Vegas. (David Becker, The Associated Press)

(David Becker, The Associated Press)

(CNN) — The House has released text of its planned Israel funding bill, appropriating $14.3 billion dollars to aid the country, setting up one of the first leadership tests for newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson.

As the Louisiana Republican noted last week, the GOP-led bill includes the same amount in spending cuts, rescinding $14.3 billion that had been allocated to the IRS as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Democrats are warning that the bill’s offsets could cost it passage in the House. And so far, two House Republicans – Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia – have said they will oppose the bill.

In the Senate, both leaders have pressed to have any funding for Israel combined with Ukraine and border security funding. Johnson has pushed to detach the aid to Israel from the Ukraine aid.

Johnson told Fox News on Monday that he will call Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to discuss his push to include spending cuts to offset the costs of the Israel package expected to hot the House floor later this week as Senate Democrats signal they would reject that plan.

May cost support from Democrats

Johnson, in a taped interview on Fox News, noted his strategy “may” cost Senate and House Democratic support but said his intention is to call Schumer and “have a very direct and thoughtful conversation about this. I understand their priority is to bulk up the IRS.”

Schumer insisted that funding for Ukraine, as well as humanitarian aid for Gaza, should be included in any supplemental package.

“We need to work with our colleagues in the House to ensure all these forms of aid make it to the President’s desk,” Schumer said. “We must not succumb to the false allures of isolationism that the hard right now professes, because the only thing that will achieve is to make America less safe.”

Sen. Patty Murray, the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a close confidante of Schumer, attacked the bill for going after IRS enforcement and for not including aid to Ukraine, calling it “dead-on-arrival” in the Senate – the clearest indication yet that there is no path for the legislation in the chamber.

“Demanding steep funding cuts to meet pressing emergency needs is dangerous political gamesmanship—and let’s be clear: the cuts House Republicans are proposing would actually increase the deficit by curbing the IRS’ ability to go after billionaire tax cheats,” the Washington Democrat said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continued advocating for including aid for Ukraine in the national security supplemental at an event Monday with the Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova in Louisville, Kentucky.

“This is a moment for swift and decisive action to prevent further loss of life, and to impose real consequences on the tyrants who have terrorized the people of Ukraine and of Israel. And right now, the Senate has a chance to produce supplemental assistance that will help us do exactly that,” McConnell said. “Enemies abroad will be watching closely and waiting for America to falter. Only our concrete and credible support can deter our adversaries in the future and restore security.”

Division over Israel and Ukraine aid

Senate Republicans are divided over McConnell’s push to link Ukraine aid to an Israel package – with a number of his conservative colleagues saying they should follow the House’s lead and move the Israel package first.

“Israel first – I think that’s the right thing to do,” said Sen. Rick Scott, the Florida Republican. “We have a majority in the House, we should follow what they’re doing.”

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a vocal skeptic of aid for Ukraine, called McConnell’s strategy a “mistake” and argued that it would slow down aid to Israel.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a strong proponent of aid to Ukraine, signaled that he was open to passing Israel funding in a standalone package, but said that he wants to ensure that other priorities also clear through Congress – including aid for Ukraine.

“At the end of the day, all of those things have to be done for me. Not some of them, but all of them … you can send Israel over by itself, that’d be fine,” he said.

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House GOP’s $14.3 billion Israel aid sets up collision course with Senate