House Passes $14.3B Israel Aid Bill, Setting Up Clash With Senate

House Passes $14.3B Israel Aid Bill, Setting Up Clash With Senate

The House just passed Speaker Mike Johnson's Israel aid plan.
Jack Gruber/USA Today
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Thursday, November 2, 2023

Good evening. The House just approved Republicans’ bill providing aid to Israel, setting up a showdown with the Senate as the war rages on. We’ve got details.

House GOP Passes Standalone Israel Aid Bill, Setting Up Clash With Senate

House Republicans on Thursday passed their bill to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel and offset that spending with cuts to IRS funding enacted as part of Democrats’ signature 2022 climate, health and tax law.

The 226-196 vote saw 12 Democrats support the plan and two Republicans oppose it.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Democrats say it is dead on arrival. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that his chamber won’t take up the House bill, which he called “unserious and woefully inadequate.” President Joe Biden has also threatened to veto the bill should it make it to his desk. He is seeking a $106 billion package that combines aid to Israel with additional funding for Ukraine, humanitarian assistance, border security and needs in the Indo-Pacific region.

Democrats broadly support aid to Israel but they voted against the House Republican plan because they object to the IRS cuts and to the exclusion of the other emergency funding. They also warn that the bill would set a bad precedent by looking to offset spending on urgent national security measures.

Schumer criticized Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson for politicizing the aid package. “He insists that emergency funding for Israel has to be paid for, when we usually don’t pay for emergency funding,” Schumer said Thursday. “But the hypocrisy here is that by cutting funding to go after tax cheats, he will actually explode the deficit by billions and billions of dollars. What a joke. … It still mystifies me that at a moment when the world is in crisis – at a time when we need to help Israel to respond to Hamas – the House GOP 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, all the while helping wealthy tax cheats get away scot free.”

Johnson told reporters earlier in the day that lawmakers could not afford to waste time in delivering aid to Israel, and he called his plan fiscally responsible, arguing that Republicans were working “to ensure responsible spending and reduce the size of the federal government” and that the IRS funding “was the easiest and largest pile of money that’s sitting there” to pay for the emergency spending. He has dismissed the Congressional Budget Office’s projection that the cuts to IRS funding would result in an additional $12.5 billion in deficits over 10 years due to reduced tax enforcement. "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 reporters.

The bottom line: The Senate appears likely to pass its plan, which would then pose a potentially divisive test for Johnson, who has tried to emphasize Republican Party unity in his first days in office following weeks of intraparty fighting. The clash over aid could also dovetail with a November 17 deadline to fund the government and avoid a shutdown of federal agencies. The foreign aid package reportedly could end up attached to a stopgap measure extending federal funding.

Speaker Mike Johnson Floats a New Idea to Fund the Government: A ‘Laddered’ CR

House Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters Thursday that he is considering a novel approach to fund the government past the shutdown deadline of November 17: passing a “laddered” continuing resolution that would extend funding for different agencies for different lengths of time.

Although it’s not entirely clear how a “laddered CR” would work, it appears that such an approach would create a series of rolling shutdown threats focused on specific parts of the government, forcing lawmakers to concentrate on passing separate funding bills, one at a time. Republicans have long called for a return to “regular order” in the House, in which lawmakers pass the 12 annual funding bills individually, rather than wrapping them into one “omnibus” package, and the laddered CR may provide a way to achieve that goal, in whole or in part.

Johnson, who has previously signaled that he wants to pass a comprehensive CR that extends funding until mid-January, said the idea for a laddered CR had been pitched at a meeting for Republican lawmakers on Thursday morning. “I think we can build consensus around it,” he said. Roll Call’s Aidan Quigley reported that Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Harris was the source of the idea.

The proposal is still in the formative stages and it’s not clear that Johnson will ultimately embrace it, but that hasn’t stopped some lawmakers from criticizing the idea. “I don't understand what a laddered CR is,” said Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar. “Some agencies are in better standing apparently, according to the House Republican Conference.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the idea sounds unworkable. “I think the speaker doesn't have a clue,” she said. “He doesn't know about the appropriations process ... That's 12 shutdowns. What are we talking about?”

At least one Republican joined Democrats in expressing confusion about the proposal. “Is this a step ladder?” asked Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana. “Are we digging a hole to put under the ladder?” According to Lisa Desjardins of PBS News Hour, Kennedy went on to say that he just wants lawmakers to pass a funding bill soon.

Quote of the Day

“The knowledge that I was dying was terrible, but dealing with my insurance company was even worse.”

Progressive healthcare activist Ady Barkan, best known for his work in support of Medicare for All, in the trailer for “Not Going Quietly,” a 2021 documentary about his life and work. Barkan was diagnosed in 2016 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He died Wednesday at age 39.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remembered Barkan as a champion for progressive change. “Everyone who had the honor of being with Ady knew that we were in the presence of greatness: a relentless organizer and beloved leader with indomitable courage,” she said in a statement. “Ady united a diverse coalition to organize for progressive change – rallying millions of Americans to defend hard-won protections for persons with disabilities and for patients’ rights, and to expand access to quality health care for all. Ady advanced the simple but essential truth that health care is a right, not a privilege. Even in his last days, he was fighting to expand Medicare and home care.”

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