The US House of Representatives has voted to advance $14.5 billion in military aid to Israel, but the bill appears to be dead on arrival after the leader of the Senate’s Democratic majority along with the White House made clear that they would not sign off on legislation that does not include assistance for both Israel and Ukraine.
The aid package pushed by new House Speaker Mike Johnson also requires the emergency aid to be offset with billions in cuts from the Internal Revenue Service, which Democrats approved last year, and does not include humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza.
US President Joe Biden has said he would veto the bill, which was approved 226-196, with 12 Democrats joining most Republicans on a largely party-line vote.
The 12 Democrats who voted with Republicans are among the party’s most pro-Israel lawmakers: Representatives Josh Gottheimer, Jared Moskowitz, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel, Jared Golden, Juan Vargas, Angie Craig, Don Davis, Greg Landsman, Darren Soto, Haley Stevens, and Fredrica Wilson.
Johnson says the Republican package will provide Israel with the assistance needed to defend itself, free hostages held by Hamas and eradicate the Palestinian terror group, accomplishing “all of this while we also work to ensure responsible spending and reduce the size of the federal government.”
Democrats say the approach will only delay help for Israel. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has warned that the “stunningly unserious” bill has no chance of passing in the Senate.
The first substantial legislative effort in Congress to support Israel in the war falls far short of Biden’s request for nearly $106 billion that would also back Ukraine as it fights Russia, along with US efforts to counter China and address security at the border with Mexico.
It is also Johnson’s first big test as House speaker as the Republican majority tries to get back to work after a month of turmoil since ousting Representative Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Johnson has said he will turn next to aid for Ukraine along with US border security, preferring to address Biden’s requests separately as GOP lawmakers increasingly oppose aiding Kyiv.
AP contributed to this report.