House passes $14bn aid package for Israel in exchange for spending cuts

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $14.3bn aid package to Israel that would strip money meant for the Internal Revenue Service to beef up enforcement against tax cheats – setting up a likely veto from Joe Biden.

The bill passed overwhelmingly 226 to 196, with just 12 Democrats voting yes alongside the GOP majority, bucking the trend of normally widespread bipartisan support for aid to Israel.

The House bill would fund the aid by stripping money from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Democrats’ signature 2022 climate and health care bill, which allocated billions to increase tax enforcement and create a free government-run electronic tax filing system.

Before the vote, House Speaker Mike Johnson defended the Republicans’ approach. “If Democrats in the Senate or the House or anywhere else want to argue that hiring more IRS agents is more important than standing with Israel at this moment, I’m ready to have that debate,” he said.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the proposed package would actually increase the deficit by $26.8bn within 10 years.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby denounced the GOP’s mixed package of cuts and aid.

“It’s incorrigible that anybody would think that we wouldn’t need some additional funding to help get food, water, and medicine to these people,” he told reporters during a briefing.

The legislation is unlikely to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN the Senate “will not be considering this deeply flawed proposal from the House GOP.”

“Instead, we will work together on our own bipartisan emergency aid package that includes aid to Israel, Ukraine, competition with the Chinese government and humanitarian aid to Gaza,” he said.

Earlier this week, the White House said President Biden would reject the House legislation, owing to its “partisan poison pill offsets” to the IRA.

Democrats and many Republicans in the Senate have said that they hope to tie support for Ukraine and Israel together.

Last month, President Joe Biden asked Congress to formally approve $105bn in supplemental money to support Ukraine, Israel and security at the US-Mexico border.