House to Vote on Standalone Israel Aid Package Next Week, Speaker Johnson Announces

Meanwhile the Senate is due to vote on its border-Ukraine-Israel package next week.

Legislation to provide $17.6 billion in emergency funding for Israel will be brought to the House floor sometime next week, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) announced on Feb. 3.

Specifically, the bill (pdf) would authorize funds to replenish Israel’s missile and rocket defense systems, procure advanced weapons systems and defense services through the Foreign Military Financing Program, and produce artillery and munitions.

The legislation would also provide funding for current U.S. military operations in the region, the protection and evacuation of U.S. citizens, and the replenishment of U.S. defense services and materials provided to Israel.

The bill comes as the Senate is set to vote on a package that combines aid for Israel and Ukraine as well as U.S. southern border measures next week. The text of the long-awaited package is due to be released this weekend.
“While the Senate appears poised to finally release the text of their supplemental package after months of behind-closed-doors negotiations, 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,” the speaker noted in a letter to his Republican colleagues.

“Given the Senate’s failure to move appropriate legislation in a timely fashion and the perilous circumstances currently facing Israel, the House will continue to lead. Next week, we will take up and pass a clean, standalone Israel supplemental package.”

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One of the first bills the House passed under Mr. Johnson was a $14.3 billion aid package to support Israel in its war with Hamas. That measure, passed in October, would have offset its costs with IRS funding cuts, but Senate Democrats refused to consider it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted the bill on the Senate floor for its exclusion of funding for Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific, or humanitarian aid for Gaza.

“The House GOP bill is woefully inadequate and has the hard right’s fingerprints all over it,” he said. “It makes aid for Israel, which has just faced the worst terrorist attack in its history, contingent on poison pills that reward rich tax cheats.”

Meanwhile, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Ukraine’s need for assistance was just as great as Israel’s and that the two should therefore be negotiated in one bill.

“There is strong support here in Congress to address these urgent priorities in one package—and that is exactly what I am working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do now,” she said.

Hours after the circulation of the speaker’s letter, the text of the new bill was released by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

“The Israeli people are still reeling from the horrors of October 7th, when they witnessed the brutal murder, rape, and hostage-taking of innocent Israeli citizens,” Mr. Calvert said in a statement.

“While Hamas hides behind women and children and in tunnels below hospitals, the Israeli forces are tasked with hunting down these cowards and eradicating them or else risk yet another attack on their homeland. This bill will ensure Israel has the tools it needs to complete the mission and send a strong signal to others in the region that the U.S. unequivocally stands with Israel—a country committed to human rights, democracy, freedom, and peace.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Schumer announced earlier this week that the long-awaited supplemental bill will move ahead next week. The deal would be unveiled before Monday, he said.

Mr. Schumer said there will be voting on Feb. 5, when he will be filing cloture, and that the first procedural vote will be no later than Feb. 7.

But Mr. Johnson has been vocally critical of the package, saying it was dead on arrival in the House. The speaker argues that President Joe Biden does not need new legislation to secure the southern border.

There have been 785,422 encounters at the southwest border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the 2024 fiscal year, which started in October 2023, according to the agency.

According to CBP, there were almost 2.48 million encounters in the previous fiscal year—an increase of 96,725 from fiscal year 2022.

President Biden has said he’d sign into law a bipartisan border deal.

“What’s been negotiated would—if passed into law—be the toughest and fairest set of reforms to secure the border we’ve ever had in our country,” he said in a Jan. 26 statement.

“It would give me, as president, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed. And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law.”

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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