House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has staunchly supported the $14 billion aid package to Israel, which the House narrowly passed despite facing severe scrutiny from the Senate and the White House.
In the legislative vote, which saw a few members crossing party lines, the House approved the bill with a 226-196 majority. Notably, Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) and Thomas Massie (KY) voted against the proposal, citing opposition to foreign aid in general. Meanwhile, a group of 12 Democrats diverged from their party to back the bill.
The proposal crafted by Mr. Johnson is financed by cutting the same amount from the Internal Revenue Service’s budget. This move has not been well-received, particularly by Democratic lawmakers. The bill is anticipated to encounter significant resistance in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has labeled the proposal as “deeply flawed” and indicated that it would not be taken up for consideration. President Biden has also promised to veto any legislation that exclusively offers aid to Israel without parallel funding for Ukraine.
During a Fox News Sunday interview, Speaker Johnson was questioned by host Shannon Bream on the bill’s viability, given the clear opposition it faces. In his defense, Johnson highlighted that the House was adhering to the requested $14.5 billion and aimed to be fiscally responsible by offsetting new spending instead of increasing the national debt or printing additional currency.
Johnson addressed criticism from the Congressional Budget Office about the bill’s potential to increase the federal deficit. He argued that viewing fiscal reallocation as detrimental to the nation’s finances was a narrow, Washington-centric perspective.
On the topic of combining aid for Ukraine with Israel’s assistance, the White House has remained insistent, an approach the House Republicans, including Johnson, are not endorsing. Instead, Johnson advocates for presenting the aid packages for Israel and Ukraine as separate bills.
House Republicans have suggested a compromise that might include increased aid for Ukraine in exchange for stringent security measures and resources for the U.S.–Mexico border. Democrats, however, view this as an inappropriate tactic to alter U.S. border laws.
Despite the contention, Johnson remains committed to his proposal, asserting that prioritizing American security, especially at the southern border, aligns with public sentiment. He argues that securing the U.S. border should precede any aid provided to secure Ukraine’s borders, a stance he believes has bipartisan traction in Congress due to growing concerns over illegal immigration and associated issues like drug trafficking and human smuggling.
The fate of these aid packages remains uncertain, and the possibility of a government shutdown looms if a resolution is not reached on appropriations bills or a secondary interim measure by November 17.