In a divided House vote in the USA on Thursday, a Republican-authored bill successfully passed, linking $14.3 billion in military aid for Israel to domestic spending reductions while omitting funding for Ukraine. This move defies President Biden's stance on the issue and appears to decrease the bill's chances in the Senate.
The Republican Party pushed through this measure with a mostly party-line vote of 226 to 196. This is a notable departure from the norm for an Israel aid package, which traditionally enjoys broad bipartisan support.
The legislation faced strong opposition from almost all Democrats, with only a dozen supporting it. Their primary objection was to the bill's provision to cut President Biden's plan to enhance the Internal Revenue Service's tax collection efforts. This development sets the stage for a confrontation in the Senate, where members from both parties favor a bill that includes aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan without the proposed I.R.S. cuts.
President Biden had requested a comprehensive package totaling $105 billion. White House officials expressed their intention to veto the House bill, citing its limited focus on Israel and the presence of what they call "partisan poison pill offsets."
Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democrat from New York and the Senate majority leader, made it clear before the House vote that the Senate would not consider the House-passed proposal. Instead, they plan to craft their own bipartisan bill that includes aid for Israel, Ukraine, and humanitarian assistance for Gaza.
This move could lead to a confrontation between the Senate and the House, as the Senate may try to impose its version of the legislation, prolonging the process and potentially delaying the aid.
Senator Schumer expressed his dismay at the Republican approach, saying, "It still mystifies me that when the world is in crisis and we need to help Israel respond to Hamas, the G.O.P. thought it was a good idea to tie Israel aid to a hard-right proposal that will raise the deficit and is totally, totally partisan."
Despite these concerns, Republicans pushed ahead, arguing that it is crucial for the House to swiftly pass aid to Israel while maintaining fiscal responsibility.
Mike Johnson, the newly elected Republican speaker, stated during a news conference, "It provides Israel with the aid it needs to defend itself, free its hostages, and eradicate Hamas, which is a mission that must be accomplished. All of this while we also work to ensure responsible spending and reduce the size of the federal government to pay for that commitment to our friend and ally."