House to vote on GOP’s new Israel aid bill

Washington — The House is expected to vote Tuesday on a new standalone Israel aid bill, complicating efforts in the Senate to rally support for a bipartisan national security bill that House GOP leaders oppose. 

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer announced the vote on Tuesday. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, announced the standalone legislation that would send $17.6 billion to Israel in a letter to colleagues on Saturday, a day before the unveiling of the Senate’s broader security package. 

The Senate package, which resulted from months of negotiations, would overhaul U.S. border policy and includes funding for Ukraine in its war against Russia, as well as military aid for Israel and humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza. The bill came as a response to Republican demands for border security funding in exchange for more Ukraine aid. 

Congressional Lawmakers Return To Work On Capitol Hill After The Weekend
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) speaks with reporters as he returns to his office at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 05, 2024 in Washington, DC.  Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

But Johnson and other House Republican leaders quickly pronounced the bill dead on arrival in the lower chamber, while reviving a GOP effort to send emergency aid to Israel via a standalone measure. 

“Their leadership is aware that by failing to include the House in their negotiations, they have eliminated the ability for swift consideration of any legislation,” Johnson wrote, adding that “the House will have to work its will on these issues and our priorities will need to be addressed.” 

House Republicans sought to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel last year that would have been paid for by cutting the same amount in funding to the IRS. The legislation never received a vote in the Senate because of Democratic opposition to the IRS cuts. 

Johnson argued that Democrats should not oppose the new bill given that it does not include the funding offsets. 

“During debate in the House and in numerous subsequent statements, Democrats made clear that their primary objection to the original House bill was with its offsets,” Johnson wrote. “The Senate will no longer have excuses, however misguided, against swift passage of this critical support for our ally.” 

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, called the standalone legislation “a cynical attempt to undermine the Senate’s bipartisan effort” in a letter to Democrats on Sunday. 

“House Republicans have released legislation that provides critical aid to Israel but irresponsibly fails to address the other national security issues that are important to the American people,” he wrote. 

At least two Democrats said Monday they’ll vote for the standalone bill. 

“We must stand with our ally Israel, get all of the hostages home, defeat Hamas, provide crucial humanitarian aid to innocent Palestinians, and work toward an enduring peace,” Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Jared Moskowitz of Florida said in a statement. 

But the conservative House Freedom Caucus accused Johnson of “surrendering to perceived pressure to move an even larger but now unpaid for Israel aid package.” 

“Conservatives should not be forced to choose between borrowing money to support our special friend Israel or honoring our commitment to end unpaid supplemental spending that exacerbate our nation’s unsustainable fiscal crisis and further risks our ability to respond to future crises,” the group said in a statement on Sunday. 

President Biden would veto the standalone Israel bill if it passes both chambers of Congress, the administration said Monday. 

Scott MacFarlane contributed reporting. 

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