Twelve House Democrats joined with Republicans on Thursday to pass a White House-opposed plan offset $14.3 billion in aid for Israel by slashing the same amount of funds meant for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The GOP measure to provide emergency aid to Israel as it fights Hamas passed by a 226-196 vote, sending the legislation to the Democrat-led Senate where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has already vowed not to bring it up for consideration.
Instead, Schumer announced earlier in the day, the Senate would “work on our own bipartisan emergency aid package that includes funding for aid to Israel, Ukraine, humanitarian aid including for Gaza, and competition with the Chinese Government.”
But the passage of the GOP House plan has already proven to be bipartisan with a dozen Democrats voting in favor of it: Reps. Angie Craig (D-MN), Don Davis (D-NC), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Jared Golden (D-ME), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Greg Landsman (D-OH), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).
“The United States has a moral duty and national security urgency to aid Israel in defending herself,” Frankel said in a statement on the vote. “Make no mistake, Hamas terrorists and others in the region are out to destroy Israel and kill all Jews. We must send an unequivocal message to the world that we stand with Israel.”
Two Republicans, Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), joined with the other Democrats who voted against the measure. In explaining his vote, Massie argued the United States cannot afford more foreign aid and said overspending is due to “soaring inflation and high interest rates.” Greene made the case for prioritizing border security.
Eleven members, including five Republicans and six Democrats, did not vote.
President Joe Biden asked Congress to approve roughly $106 billion in national security-related funds, including $14.3 billion for Israel, $61.4 billion for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, as well as money for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific, humanitarian assistance, and border security.
The White House signaled that Biden would veto the House GOP measure, with the Office of Management and Budget claiming “the bill fails to meet the urgency of the moment by deepening our divides and severely eroding historic bipartisan support for Israel’s security.” And some Democrats have criticized the legislation by seizing on a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis that found the offset idea would decrease revenues by $26.8 billion over 10 years and therefore increase the federal deficit by $12.5 billion over that time period.
The House Republican measure aims to further cut the budget of the IRS after Biden secured $80 billion through the Inflation Reduction Act to bolster and modernize the agency over ten years — with an agenda to commit more than half of the money to enforcement, particularly in going after wealthy tax evaders — only for up to $21.4 billion to get clawed back as part of a debt ceiling deal in June.
“We are in dire straits as a nation,” Johnson said. He stressed that tackling the $33.7 trillion national debt is a top priority, declaring, “We want to protect and help and assist our friend Israel, but we have to keep our own house in order as well.” Johnson said he has made it “very clear” to the Biden administration and Senate Republicans that “we’re going to do this in a responsible manner.”
The speaker also vowed that Ukraine will “come next” and suggested it could be paired with border security. Johnson said he believes a bipartisan agreement can be reached on those issues.