Israel Aid Bill Fails In US House As Ukraine Impasse Deepens
The US House failed to pass a $17.6 billion Israel funding package that has become tied up in a prolonged political battle over Ukraine war aid and border policies.
The bill, which required a two-thirds majority, fell short with a 250 to 180 vote Tuesday evening that underscored that there’s no clear or quick path for Congress to approve aid to Israel in its war in the Gaza Strip.
President Joe Biden had threatened to veto the measure because it didn’t include funds for Ukraine, leading most Democrats to oppose it. Many progressives also assailed the bill because it didn’t include humanitarian aid for Palestinians.
“It is a nakedly obvious and cynical attempt by MAGA extremists to undermine the possibility of a comprehensive, bipartisan funding package that addresses America’s national security challenges in the Middle East, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific region and throughout the world,” House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries and fellow leaders said in a statement.
In his statement, House Speaker Mike Johnson said: “Leveraging Israel aid as it fights for survival is wrong. The White House and congressional Democrats should be ashamed.”
Republican fiscal conservatives also opposed the legislation because its price tag was not offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. In all, 166 Democrats and 14 Republicans voted against the measure.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul of Texas said that the next step may be for the Senate to try to pass a Ukraine and Israel aid package without border provisions.
That would shift the problem again to the House, where ultra-conservatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia staunchly oppose Ukraine funding. Greene has threatened to move to oust Johnson if he puts a standalone Ukraine assistance measure on the floor.
Johnson could try to bring back the standalone Israel aid bill if he could secure a debate rule that would allow the measure to pass with a simple majority. But he would have to convince rebellious ultraconservatives in his own party — no easy feat.
The speaker lined up Tuesday’s Israel aid vote in response to a deepening Senate standoff over a combined Israel, Ukraine and border policy bill unveiled Sunday.
Johnson and other GOP leaders have demanded new border policies in exchange for their support for Ukraine. But Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump vehemently opposed the $118.3 billion deal, and most in the party followed suit.
The House last year passed a $14 billion Israel aid bill that included cuts to the Internal Revenue Service budget. Those cuts would have added to the deficit, the non—partisan Congressional Budget Office found, because of lost revenue from tax cheating. The Senate hasn’t approved that measure.