PROMO 64J1 Government - Capitol Washington DC Building United States - iStock - lucky-photographer

Israel funding bill takes fire, draws battle lines for Johnson tenure

© iStock - lucky-photographer
Casey Harper

(The Center Square) – The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote as early as Thursday on a controversial spending measure to send funds to Israel and pay for it by cutting from the Internal Revenue Service.

The Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act is the most contentious move yet backed by Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., in his new leadership role, a move that President Joe Biden has vocally opposed and which will face significant opposition in the Senate.

The legislation would send $14.3 billion to Israel, about $10.5 billion of that aid for Israel’s military as it continues its war against Hamas, the terror group that launched a deadly surprise attack against Israel last month. Hamas killed more than 1,400 Israelis and likely took more than 200 hostages, including Americans.

The spending measure says it will pay for the Israel funding by cutting spending on the IRS. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office, however, scored the legislation, saying it will add $26.7 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years because the cut to the IRS would decrease revenue collection over that time.

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blasted the spending measure.

The White House has said Biden will veto it if it were to pass both chambers. Biden proposed a more than $100 billion spending measure last month that has not been passed by Congress. According to the White House, Biden’s spending request includes $61 billion for Ukraine in its war against Russia, about $14 billion for Israel, and about $14 billion for U.S. immigration issues.

Biden’s funding request also includes $10 billion for humanitarian aid in Israel, Gaza, Ukraine and elsewhere as well as $2 billion for nations in the Indo-Pacific region, most notably Taiwan, a country that national security experts say could be invaded by China at any moment.

After Biden released his request, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., released a statement calling it “dead on arrival.”

“President Biden’s slush fund proposal is dead on arrival, just like his budgets,” Cotton said. “We will not spend, for example, $3.5 billion to address the ‘potential needs of Gazans,’ essentially functioning as a resupply line for Hamas terrorists.”

While the House spending measure is unlikely to pass into law as is, it sends a message to the White House and Senate that Johnson is pushing the House in favor of Israel and is leaning with the contingent of Republicans who are skeptical of sending billions more to Ukraine.

With Biden’s measure facing its own problems, it remains unclear where negotiations will leave the various spending priorities, especially funding for Israel and Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Congress faces a looming partial government shutdown deadline in the middle of November. Johnson said he is willing to put forward a temporary funding measure to fund the government through next year if lawmakers do not have enough time to pass standard appropriations bills to keep the government running.