House Rejects Standalone Israel Aid Bill

The measure would have given $17.6 billion in assistance to Israel, but faced an uphill battle in the Senate and a threatened veto by President Biden.

The House failed to pass a standalone bill on Feb. 6 that would have given $17.6 billion in assistance to Israel amid its latest conflict with the terrorist group Hamas.

The final tally was 250–180, therefore, it did not get the two-thirds majority needed for passage as the bill was brought under an expedited procedural move.

There were 203 Republicans and 46 Democrats who voted for the measure, while there were 166 Democrats and 14 Republicans who voted against it.

Even if it had passed, the measure would have faced an uncertain future in the Democrat-controlled Senate as it was already opposed by President Joe Biden, who said in a Feb. 5 statement that he would veto the bill.
The 18-page piece of legislation included but was not limited to, $4 billion for the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems and $1.2 billion for the Iron Beam defense system.

It came as Israel has been taking military action in Gaza since Oct. 7, when Hamas launched the greatest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust during World War II.

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The terrorist group murdered, raped, and maimed Israelis and took hundreds of people hostage.

The Democrat-controlled Senate is looking to pass a supplemental bill that includes assistance to Israel, aid to Ukraine, and money for immigration and border measures.

The latter are points of contention among congressional Republicans, who have said that the bill is dead on arrival in the House. There may not be enough votes to pass that bill in the Senate.

The administration touted the supplemental bill and called on Congress to pass it.

“Instead of working in good faith to address the most pressing national security challenges, this bill is another cynical political maneuver,” they said of the Israel standalone bill.

“The security of Israel should be sacred, not a political game,” they said.

“The administration strongly opposes this ploy which does nothing to secure the border, does nothing to help the people of Ukraine defend themselves against Putin’s aggression, fails to support the security of American synagogues, mosques, and vulnerable places of worship, and denies humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians, the majority of whom are women and children,” the statement continued.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) fired back at the White House.

“The president’s veto threat is an act of betrayal,” said Mr. Johnson in a Feb. 5 statement.

“Israel is at war, fighting for its very right to exist, while our brave men and women in uniform are in harm’s way on his orders to deter Iran,” he continued.

“In threatening to veto aid to Israel and to our military forces, President Biden is abandoning our ally in its time of greatest need.”

In remarks to reporters ahead of the vote, House GOP Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said: “Unlike Joe Biden, House Republicans stand with Israel.”

Speaker Urges Passage

In remarks hours before the vote, President Biden blamed former President Donald Trump, who is leading in the GOP presidential primary field and has come out against the supplemental.

President Biden said that “Donald Trump thinks it’s bad for him politically” and that “he’d rather weaponize this issue than actually solve” the situation at the border.

Ahead of the vote, Mr. Johnson called on Congress to pass the bill.

However, not only was the White House opposed to the bill but so was House Democrat leadership and the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus.

In a letter to House Democrats, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), and House Democrat Conference Chairman Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) said the standalone Israel bill was “not being offered in good faith” as “it is a nakedly obvious and cynical attempt by MAGA extremists to undermine” the supplemental.

MAGA stands for Make America Great Again, the movement of President Trump.

“Here at home, the time has come for House Republicans to end the political stunts and come together in support of a comprehensive approach to our national security priorities,” said House Democrat leaders.

In a Feb. 4 statement, the House Freedom Caucus said: “The most principled action taken to date by Speaker Johnson was the decision to pass a standalone, fully paid-for Israel funding bill in November, demonstrating our commitment to supporting our most important ally in a fiscally responsible manner.”

That bill, which was killed in the Senate, would have been paid for by offsetting $14.3 billion in IRS funding allocated under the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. That was the same amount allocated for the Jewish state under the measure.

“It is extremely disappointing that the speaker is now surrendering to perceived pressure to move an even larger but now unpaid for Israel aid package—reversing course on his stance to require new supplemental spending to be offset,” said the Freedom Caucus.

The caucus cited America’s $34 trillion in debt and said the bill would put the country further in the red.

Instead, said the caucus, funding for the Jewish state should be offset “by cutting funding for the United Nations, repealing the IRS expansion, rescinding the Department of Commerce ’slush fund,’ or ending leftist climate change tax credits.”

Jewish groups expressed mixed reactions to the standalone Israel bill.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, said it supports the House and Senate bills that would give assistance to Israel.

“It is urgent and vital that Israel has what it needs to defeat terrorism and defend its citizens. Shame on House Democratic Leader [Hakeem Jeffries],” posted the Republican Jewish Coalition on X, formerly Twitter.

The Jewish Democratic Council of America called the bill “a bad-faith effort by Republicans to use support for Israel to derail security assistance for Ukraine and border security.”

“This is a cynical ploy by Republican leadership to undermine broader national security interests, cut off vital aid to Ukraine, and prevent humanitarian aid from reaching those in need,” said the group in a Feb. 5 statement.

The Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) came out in support of both the supplemental and the standalone bill.

“Israel is at war because Hamas attacked and massacred civilians,” said DMFI President and CEO Mark Mellman in a Feb. 6 statement.

“We cannot allow politics to derail the aid Israel needs,” he continued. “We cannot allow our domestic divisions to send a message of weakness to our adversaries.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Mellman slammed Mr. Johnson for what they said was playing politics over the Jewish state.

“We are also deeply disappointed that Speaker Johnson has flip-flopped again, this time bowing to Donald Trump in refusing to bring the Senate bill to the floor, and instead is playing a cynical political game with Israel aid,” he said.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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