The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to send emergency aid to Israel to support the campaign to eradicate Hamas.
The $14.3 billion bill passed 226 to 196, gaining 12 Democratic votes and losing two Republicans.
Representatives Thomas Massie, Kentucky, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia, voted against the bill on the Republican side.
The bill’s fate is likely doomed in the Senate, as Democrats have insisted that the aid should be tied to Ukraine and disagree with the pay-for: the bill recycles money intended for the IRS.
The money comes from an $80 billion boost to the IRS in the previous Congress’s Democratic-passed Inflation Reduction Act.
Former Chairman Kevin McCarthy’s debt limit deal already took some of that money away, but much of it remains.
Even as the IRS payment threatens the future of the relief bill, Speaker Mike Johnson emphasized that the foreign aid must be offset.
Even as the IRS payment threatens the future of the relief bill, Speaker Mike Johnson stressed that the foreign aid must be offset
“$67 billion is there to revamp, build and hire new IRS agents and you have to look at the scope and importance of our obligations at this point,” Johnson said at a news conference. “My belief is that this dire situation in Israel is so important.”
He reasoned that the national debt, which stands at $33 trillion, is “the greatest threat to national security” above all else.
“Ukraine (financing) will come in the short term. We will do that next,” the speaker said, adding that it would involve border security.
The White House said President Biden would veto the bill if it reached his desk.
Pete Aguilar, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, has blasted the bill. “They are trying to condition life-saving aid on Israel for the sole purpose of making it easier for billionaires to commit tax fraud.”
“We’re learning a lot about this new speaker this week, with these first legislative acts. And this has been a complete and total disaster,” he added.
In turning the tides, the White House also said Thursday it would push Israel to take a humanitarian pause to allow more aid to enter Gaza.
Meanwhile, on the Senate side, some Democrats have begun to criticize Israel’s aggressive and bloody offensive campaign in response to the October 7 Hamas attacks.
When asked by CNN whether it was time for a ceasefire, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said, “I think so.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is Jewish, also called on Israel to halt its attacks on Gaza.
‘The disaster in Gaza cannot continue. The world must take action to save innocent lives. But just as a humanitarian response is critical, it is equally important to chart a path to a two-state solution and a democratic Palestine. Israel cannot bomb its way to a long-term solution.”
On the House side, some progressive members have demanded a ceasefire.
An injured Palestinian boy cries as rescuers try to pull him from the rubble of a destroyed building after an Israeli airstrike in the Bureij refugee camp, Gaza Strip, Thursday, November 2, 2023
Smoke rises after Israeli attacks on the Tal Al Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City
Israeli rescue crew inspects a house hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip near Lod, Israel on November 2, 2023
Even as the IRS payment threatens the future of the relief bill, Johnson emphasized that the foreign aid must be offset
“Enough people have been killed,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman, DY, told DailyMail.com. “We have to find a diplomatic solution.”
He said he was frustrated with the Biden administration’s handling of the conflict “from the very beginning.”
“It is important to support our ally Israel, but it is also important to hold Israel accountable,” Bowman added. ‘We have to do better as a party.’
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., also demanded that Israel “reconsider its approach.”
“It is time for Israel’s friends to recognize that the current approach is causing an unacceptable level of harm to the civilian population and that the goal of ending the threat from Hamas does not appear likely to be achieved.” I urge Israel to immediately reconsider its approach.”
According to the Israeli Defense Forces, a Hamas attack on October 7 killed around 1,400 Israelis. At least 9,000 Palestinians have been killed in response, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. Neither figure has been independently verified.
Republicans still largely support Israel and are happy with the IRS trade-off.
“Israel has every right to defend itself against the brutal attacks we have witnessed over the past month,” Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., said in a statement. “These funds would be better used to support Israel than by IRS agents to audit middle-class Americans.”