House Republicans on Monday released their bill to provide $14.3 billion in emergency aid to Israel, setting up a planned vote on Thursday and a likely clash with the Senate, where the structure of the plan — and the GOP’s proposals to pay for it — are likely to run into opposition.
The House bill proposes to offset the cost of the assistance to Israel in its war against Hamas by cutting an equivalent amount of funding provided for the Internal Revenue Service by last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, one of President Joe Biden’s signature legislative achievements. That law, enacted by Democrats without any Republican support, initially provided $80 billion in additional funding over 10 years to enable the tax agency to improve its service and operations, upgrade its technology and crack down on wealthy tax cheats.
Republicans have sought to repeal that funding, and Biden earlier this year agreed to divert $20 billion of the funding to other agencies as part of his deal with then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the debt limit. “Conservatives say they are optimistic that the debt ceiling deal means the administration has demonstrated it will fold on IRS funding to approve other priorities and could be forced to do so again,” The Washington Post reports.
A pay-for that adds to the deficit: Newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson had said last week that Republicans would demand offsets for the emergency aid to Israel. “Here’s the thing that distinguishes House Republicans from the other team," he told Sean Hannity of Fox News. "We’re going to find pay-fors in the budget. We’re not just printing money to send it overseas. We’re going to fund the cuts elsewhere to do that.”
Even with the spending offset, House GOP hardliners may not line up behind the plan and at least one conservative has already come out against the aid. “I will be a NO vote,” Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky posted on social media. “We simply can’t afford it.”
But as Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget pointed out, the proposed Republican offsets would actually add to the deficit by reducing federal revenue. “Every $1 you cut IRS funding will lose about $2 of revenue,” Goldwein wrote. “So that means this bill would add about $30 billion to the deficit.”
A clash over Ukraine, too: The House bill also rejects a Biden administration call to package the money for Israel with some $60 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine. Johnson and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell appear to be headed for a clash over the Ukraine aid. McConnell on Monday again pushed to combine the aid to Israel and Ukraine in one supplemental funding bill, arguing that both conflicts are part of a larger fight against enemies of democracy and America’s global leadership.
“Right now, loud voices on both sides of the aisle are suggesting that American leadership isn’t worth the cost. Some say our support for Ukraine comes at the expense of more important priorities. But as I’ve said every time I get the chance, this is a false choice,” McConnell said Monday at an event in Louisville, Kentucky.
He added an economic argument, suggesting that a Russian victory in Ukraine would imperil NATO allies, the United States’ largest trading partner, and lead to more costly American military involvement in Europe.
“I’ve spelled out how investments in Ukraine’s defense are really also investments in replenishing and modernizing America’s defense arsenal … creating thousands of good-paying American jobs in defense manufacturing… and driving historic investments in communities across the country,” he said.
The White House called the House GOP plan “a nonstarter” and criticized the push to offset national security spending. “Demanding offsets for meeting core national security needs of the United States—like supporting Israel and defending Ukraine from atrocities and Russian imperialism—would be a break with the normal, bipartisan process and could have devastating implications for our safety and alliances in the years ahead,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement
“Threatening to undermine American national security unless House Republicans can help the wealthy and big corporations cheat on their taxes—which would increase the deficit—is the definition of backwards.”
The bottom line: The House bill has no chance of clearing the Senate and will instead set up the first of what are likely to be several spending fights ahead of a November 17 deadline to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. McConnell and Johnson will have their own disagreements to work out. “Beyond the next three weeks, McConnell wants to pass the regular appropriations bills before Christmas in order to boost defense spending,” The Hill notes, “while Johnson has floated the idea of freezing federal funding with a stopgap measure lasting until January or April.”