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House Republicans hope to pass Israel aid package, setting up a clash with Senate

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House Republicans hope to pass Israel aid package, setting up a clash with Senate

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WASHINGTON — House Republicans are hoping to pass a bill on Thursday that would provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel as it wages war against Hamas, but Democrats say it’s dead on arrival in the Senate and President Joe Biden has vowed to veto the measure.

The bill, championed by newly minted Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., is narrow in scope, pairing Israel aid with $14.3 billion in cuts to IRS funding that was approved through Biden’s 2022 sweeping climate, health and tax law.

The slim GOP majority may not get much help from Democrats, who mostly say they favor aid to Israel but plan to vote against the bill due to the IRS cuts, decrying them as a poison pill. The IRS funding was designed to amp up enforcement and catch tax cheats, bringing in more revenue; Democrats point to a new Congressional Budget Office report that the overall measure would add nearly $27 billion to the deficit.

If it passes, the House bill would set up a major clash over much-needed Israel aid with the Democratic-controlled Senate. Biden and Senate Democrats are backing a broader approach, pushing for $106 billion for both Israel and Ukraine aid, humanitarian aid for Gaza, as well as funding for U.S. border operations in one package.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Thursday vowed that the House bill would go nowhere in the upper chamber.

“I am glad that the president issued a veto threat over this stunningly unserious proposal,” Schumer said in a floor speech. “The Senate will not be considering this deeply flawed proposal from the House GOP.”

Addressing reporters at his first leadership press conference as speaker, Johnson on Thursday defended the GOP’s IRS provisions, arguing despite the CBO’s report that Americans want Congress to get its fiscal house in order.

“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 said.

“But I did not attach that for political purposes. I attached it because again, we’re trying to get back to the principle of fiscal responsibility here,” he continued. “And that was the easiest and largest pile of money that’s sitting there for us to be able to pay for this immediate obligation.”

The battle over foreign aid money comes as Congress barrels toward a Nov. 17 deadline to fund the government, marking the first big test for Johnson. The House and Senate are taking different paths in the appropriations process and lawmakers are moving toward another short-term funding bill. Aid to Israel may end up attached to a stopgap measure if it doesn’t pass separately by then.

“There’s a growing recognition that we’re going to need another stopgap funding measure,” Johnson told reporters, adding that his preference is a short-term bill through Jan. 15 but that he’s still sounding out members for ideas.



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