House approves Israeli aid bill destined for veto

November 3, 2023

The GOP-led house approved a $14.3 billion aid bill for Israel that is destined to be rejected by the Democratic-led Senate and that President Biden has vowed to veto if it does reach his desk.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) took the rare approach of tying the military aid to the warring U.S. ally to spending cuts elsewhere—specifically, $1.4 billion in cuts to the IRS.

The bill passed in the House Thursday evening 226-196 along mostly partisan lines. Only 12 Democrats voted in its favor while only two Republicans voted against it.

Johnson insisted that the spending package, offset by IRS spending cuts, would provide Israel the assistance it needs to defend itself against Hamas, free the hostages Hamas is holding and eradicate the terrorist organization, while at the same time, he said, the legislation will “ensure responsible spending and reduce the size of the federal government.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) blasted the House bill as “stunningly unserious” and declared that it had no chance of passing as-is in the Senate.

Biden, who has been pressing for $106 billion in new spending to aid for both Israel and Ukraine, as well as to beef up enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border, vowed to veto the House bill in the unlikely event that it should reach his desk. 

The White House has said Johnson’s approach “fails to meet the urgency of the moment” and tying emergency funds to spending cuts would set a dangerous precedent.

The first substantial legislative effort in Congress to support Israel in its war against Hamas is also Johnson’s first big test since taking the Speaker’s gavel. He has said he wants to aid Ukraine in a bill separate from Israel as a growing number of Republican lawmakers are expressing opposition to further assisting Ukraine in its war against Russia. 

The Democrats’ rejection of the GOP-led House’s spending bill comes two weeks before Congress faces a deadline to fund the federal budget for fiscal year 2024 and avoid a government shutdown on November 17.

PHOTO: House Floor, Thursday evening

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