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House passes GOP-backed $14.3 billion Israel aid bill despite Biden veto threat

House Republicans pass $14 billion Israel aid bill 02:20

Washington — The House on Thursday passed a Republican-backed bill that would provide billions of dollars in aid to Israel but left out funding for Ukraine and other national security priorities, teeing up a showdown with the Senate and White House over an emergency spending package.

The vote in the House was 226 to 196 and fell largely along partisan lines, with 12 Democrats joining Republicans in voting for its passage. Two Republicans voted against the measure.

The bill was an early test for House Speaker Mike Johnson, who chose to pursue a narrower bill that would not attract Democratic support, rather than a larger package that many members across the aisle would have supported.

The legislation is dead on arrival in the Senate, and President Biden has threatened to veto the measure. Democrats, and many Senate Republicans, oppose separating aid for Israel and assistance for Ukraine, border security funding and other measures. The White House has asked for a $106 billion package that would include billions for Ukraine, Israel and the other programs.

The House's bill would have also cut funding for the IRS, taking aim at one of Republicans' favorite targets. But the Congressional Budget Office undercut GOP lawmakers' argument that the cuts would pay for the aid to Israel, finding that they would in fact increase the deficit by eliminating revenue from ramped-up enforcement against tax cheats.

"The irony as I pointed out, Mr. Leader, is that in the pay-for you have used, CBO scores that as a $12.5 billion increase in the debt, not a decrease," Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on the House floor ahead of the vote. Hoyer said the national debt is "important," but Republicans' solution in this case "does not accomplish that objective" of slashing the deficit. 

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York said he will proudly vote for a "genuine bill to aid Israel" but said he could not support Thursday's measure.

"I look forward to voting for that bill," Nadler said from the House floor. "But the bill we are voting on today is just a partisan game. It is an insult to Jewish Americans, and it is an insult to our ally, Israel." 

Ahead of the floor vote, House Democratic leaders urged members to vote against the bill, saying it "breaks from longstanding bipartisan precedent" by including spending cuts in an emergency aid package. Democrats expressed concern that approving the GOP's bill could set a precedent that would raise "unnecessary barriers to future aid in the event of a security emergency." 

Senate Democrats have also been railing against House Republicans' proposal. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the upper chamber would not consider the House's bill. 

"The Senate will not be considering this deeply flawed proposal from the House GOP, and instead we will work together on our own bipartisan emergency aid package that includes aid to Israel, Ukraine, competition with the Chinese government, and humanitarian aid for Gaza,," Schumer said on the Senate floor earlier in the day. 

House Republicans who backed the Israel bill laid the blame for any delay in delivering aid for Israel squarely at the White House's door. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the GOP conference chair, blasted Mr. Biden for his veto threat. 

"We proudly stand with Israel instead of Joe Biden's army of IRS agents, and shame on Joe Biden for threatening to veto this critical Israel aid package," she said Thursday.

Ellis Kim and Caitlin Yilek contributed to this report 

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