US House Passes $14.3bn Aid Package for Israel Despite Democratic Opposition

US House Passes $14.3bn Aid Package for Israel Despite Democratic Opposition – The US House of Representatives passed a $14.3 billion aid plan for Israel in its conflict with Hamas on Thursday. This measure was approved with a vote of 226-196, primarily along party lines, with most Republicans in support and most Democrats opposing it. This marked the first major legislative action under the new Republican House speaker, Mike Johnson

President Joe Biden has threatened to veto the bill, and Chuck Schumer, the Democrat-controlled Senate’s majority leader, has stated that he will not bring it up for a vote. Biden has urged Congress to endorse a comprehensive $106 billion emergency spending proposal, which encompasses support for Israel, Taiwan, Ukraine, and humanitarian aid. Schumer mentioned that the Senate would review a bipartisan bill that addresses these broader priorities. 

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The House’s proposed legislation allocates substantial funds for Israel’s military, including $4 billion for the enhancement of Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems, enabling them to counter short-range rocket threats, in addition to certain equipment transfers from US stockpiles. “This is the first step in the process and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the bill so we can get funds to Israel as soon as possible,” said the representative Kay Granger, who chairs the House appropriations committee, during debate on the legislation.

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Republicans hold a 221-212 majority in the House, while Democrats have a 51-49 majority in the Senate. For the bill to become law, it needs to pass both the House and Senate and be signed by President Biden. House Republican leaders have proposed covering the cost of the aid to Israel by reducing some of the funding allocated to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which Democrats included in President Biden’s 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. 

Republicans have been opposed to the increased IRS funding from the outset, asserting that cutting the agency’s budget is necessary to offset the expenses related to military aid for Israel, especially in light of recent developments involving Israel’s military actions against Hamas near Gaza City. Democrats objected to cutting money for the IRS, calling it a politically motivated “poison pill” that would increase the country’s budget deficit by cutting back on tax collection.

They also emphasized the importance of maintaining support for Ukraine in its ongoing struggle against the Russian invasion that commenced in February 2022. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in its assessment on Wednesday, indicated that the IRS reductions and the provision of aid to Israel within the standalone bill would contribute to an increase of nearly $30 billion in the current U.S. budget deficit, which is currently estimated to be $1.7 trillion.

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The representative Rosa DeLauro, the ranking Democratic on the appropriations committee, accused Republicans of delaying aid by backing a partisan bill that does not include Ukraine or humanitarian aid for civilians. “This bill abandons Ukraine. We will not abandon Israel and we will not abandon Ukraine. But their fortunes are linked,” she said. Although Democrats and a majority of Republicans continue to show significant support for Ukraine, a minority of vocal Republicans are raising doubts about providing additional funding to the Kyiv government.

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Most especially during a period of substantial budget deficits. Speaker Johnson, who had previously voted against Ukraine aid on multiple occasions before assuming his role as speaker last month, intends to propose a bill that combines assistance for Ukraine with funding aimed at enhancing security along the U.S.-Mexico border. Congress has approved $113bn for Ukraine since the invasion began.

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