In a largely party-line vote, the Republican-led House approved a bill on Thursday to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel as it continues its conflict with Hamas. However, the future of this bill is uncertain as Senate Democrats are poised to block it, and President Joe Biden has pledged to veto it.
Partisan Divide Over $14.3 Billion in Aid
The House vote, with a tally of 226-196, largely followed party lines. While the majority of Republicans supported the measure, a dozen Democrats joined them, showing bipartisan support for the aid package. Only two Republicans, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, broke ranks to oppose the bill.
The bill, championed by newly appointed Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., combines Israel aid with $14.3 billion in cuts to IRS funding that had been part of Biden’s 2022 comprehensive climate, health, and tax law.
Clash with the Senate on the Horizon
The narrowed scope of the House bill has set the stage for a significant showdown with the Democratic-controlled Senate. President Biden and Senate Democrats are advocating for a more comprehensive approach, seeking $106 billion to support both Israel and Ukraine, alongside humanitarian aid for Gaza and funding for U.S. border operations, all in a single package.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., firmly rejected the House bill, declaring, “The Senate will not be considering this deeply flawed proposal from the House GOP.”
Fiscal Responsibility vs. National Security
Speaker Johnson defended the GOP’s inclusion of IRS provisions despite objections from Democrats. He argued that, despite a Congressional Budget Office report suggesting the bill would increase the deficit, fiscal responsibility is essential. “If Democrats in the Senate or the House or anyone else want to argue that hiring more IRS agents is more important than standing with Israel in this minute, I’m ready to have that debate,” he told NBC.
Democrats’ Split Vote Reflects Complex Issue
Despite party leaders urging Democrats to vote against the bill, 12 Democrats defied their party lines and supported the legislation. Notably, several Jewish Democrats, including Reps. Lois Frankel, Jared Moskowitz, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida expressed their support for the aid to Israel.
Moskowitz, who has a personal connection to the Holocaust, explained his “yes” vote but criticized Speaker Johnson for politicizing the issue. He stated, “This was his first full week, first big vote, national security issue for the American people, a national security issue for Israel, our No. 1 ally, and he played politics for it so that he could send out a political mailer.”
Deadline Looms for Government Funding
Congress is swiftly approaching a critical deadline of November 17 to secure government funding, marking a significant test for Speaker Johnson. The House and Senate are pursuing different paths in the appropriations process, potentially leading to another short-term funding bill. Aid to Israel may become part of a stopgap measure if it doesn’t pass independently before the deadline.
Johnson stated that there is growing recognition of the need for another short-term funding measure and that he is consulting with fellow members to explore possible solutions.
The fate of the aid bill hangs in the balance, as political differences and the approaching government funding deadline add complexity to the situation. The path forward will likely involve further negotiations and, potentially, a compromise both to address Israel’s needs and fiscal responsibility.
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.