House to take up Israel aid package Thursday

The House will take up Republicans’ standalone Israel aid bill Thursday afternoon, with Democrats firmly opposed to passing aid for Israel in a measure separate from aid to Ukraine and other national security interests.

House Speaker Mike Johnson said he’ll bring the bill to the floor on Tuesday. The supplemental aid package for Israel would offer $14.3 billion in aid for its fight against Hamas, a sum that would be taken from IRS funding. But the Congressional Budget Office says this would in fact increase the deficit because that IRS funding was designated for enforcement actions against tax cheats.

“Israel doesn’t need a cease-fire,” Johnson told reporters Thursday. It needs its allies to cease with the politics and deliver support now. And that’s what we’re doing.” President Biden had said Wednesday he thought there should be a humanitarian “pause” in the Israel-Hamas war, after his campaign speech was interrupted by a protester calling for a cease-fire. “I think we need a pause,” which he said would “give time to get the prisoners out.”

Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders sent a notice to their caucus Tuesday recommending that members vote “no” on the Israel supplemental bill. 

They told their caucus that the bill “breaks from longstanding bipartisan precedent by offsetting the appropriated funds by rescinding $14.3 billion previously appropriated by the Inflation Reduction Act to the Internal Revenue Service.”

Democrats expressed concern that approving the GOP’s bill could set a precedent that would raise “unnecessary barriers to future aid in the event of a security emergency.” 

Senate Democrats have also been railing against House Republicans’ proposal, and if it passes the House, the measure unlikely to receive a vote in the upper chamber. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has more than once called the House bill a “joke.” 

“Speaker Johnson and House Republicans released a totally unserious and woefully inadequate package that omitted aid to Ukraine, omitted humanitarian assistance to Gaza, no funding for the Indo-Pacific, and made funding for Israel conditional on hard-right, never-going-to-pass proposals,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday. 

President Biden has also threatened to veto the House bill. The White House asked Congress for a $105 billion supplemental aid package that included funding for Israel, Ukraine and other national security-related issues.

“If the president were presented with this bill, he would veto it,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement of administration policy.  

Rep. Elise Stefanik, the GOP conference chair, blasted Mr. Biden over the veto threat. 

“We proudly stand with Israel instead of Joe Biden’s army of IRS agents and shame on Joe Biden for threatening to veto this critical Israel aid package,” she said Thursday.

The House is expected to vote late Thursday afternoon. 

Ellis Kim contributed to this report 

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