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Republican bill for standalone Israel military aid falls short of super majority

The Republican bill to provide $17.6bn in aid to Israel tanked in the US House of Representatives after it failed to receive a super majority.

The Republican-led bill was largely rejected by Democrats on Tuesday, who wanted a vote instead on a broader measure that would also provide assistance to Ukraine, international humanitarian funding, and new money for border security.

The vote was 250-180 mostly on party lines but failed short of the mandated two-thirds majority required for passage. Fourteen Republicans opposed the bill while 46 Democrats supported it.

The White House, prior to the vote, issued a statement announcing president Joe Biden's intent to veto the bill if it were to reach his desk.

The bill to separate Israeli's aid from others was brought by speaker Mike Johnson in November on one of his first days as the new House speaker. The vote comes amid Israel's devastating war in Gaza in response to Hamas and other militants killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking captive some 240 men, women and children in an 7 October attack.

Israel has killed at least 27,585 Palestinians in its four-month-long offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Israel, one of the largest recipients of US foreign aid, has traditionally received strong bipartisan support in Congress. But many opponents to the proposed legislation called it a political ploy by Republicans to distract from their opposition to a $118bn Senate bill combining an overhaul of US immigration policy.

Speaker Johnson had said the Senate bill was "dead on arrival" in the chamber even before it was introduced. And Senate Republican leaders said on Tuesday they did not think the measure would receive enough votes to pass.

"This accomplishes nothing and delays aid getting out to our allies and providing humanitarian relief," said Rosa DeLauro, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, urging opposition to the Israel-only bill.

"Our allies are facing existential threats and our friends and foes around the globe are watching, waiting to see how America will respond."

Ken Calvert, the Republican Defence Appropriations Subcommittee chair, said the bill proposed by the Republicans "simply provides necessary resources to our closest ally in the region and our own military".

Democrats also blasted the House bill for failing to provide humanitarian assistance for Palestinian civilians.

It was the second setback for Republicans on Tuesday after it failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Four Republicans joined all of the Democrats in voting down the impeachment effort, with the final tally being 216 to 214. Republicans Ken Buck of Colorado, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, and Tom McClintock of California voted against the measure.

Utah Republican Blake Moore changed his vote from yes to no late in the voting, a procedural move to allow the GOP majority to reconsider the measure at a later date under House rules.

The last time a cabinet official was impeached was in 1876 – 148 years ago. Mr Mayorkas faced accusations that he failed to enforce the existing laws governing immigration into the US and that he obstructed a House Republican probe into the policies of the Department of Homeland Security.

Additional reporting by agencies