House Passes $14.3 Billion Israel Aid Bill That Cuts IRS Funding

Jackson Richman
By Jackson Richman
November 2, 2023Congress
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The House passed a bill on Nov. 2 to provide $14.3 billion in funding to Israel amid its conflict with the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups, with 194 Democrats voting in opposition.

The supplemental funding passed 226–196. Twelve Democrats voted in favor of it. Two Republicans voted against it: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).

The measure allocates the $14.3 billion requested by the Biden administration but offsets that amount with the same number in cuts to IRS funding under the Inflation Reduction Act—a nonstarter for Democrats.

Following the vote, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) told The Epoch Times he was glad it passed but wished it went through unanimously.

“We’re grateful. I wish it had been supported by every member of the chamber,” he said. “This is clearly a big priority and we’re glad to send that to the Senate and we’ll take it from there.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on the House floor that the bill, which he supported, would not get rid of current IRS agents, rather “tens of thousands of new proposed IRS agents.”

The legislation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would add $12.5 billion to the national deficit over a decade.

The bill sets aside $4.4 billion for Israel to replenish its defense stockpiles. The secretary of defense would be required to notify Congress of the transfer of funds “not less than” 15 days beforehand.

The legislation allocates $801.4 million for Israel to procure army ammunition, $10 million for naval weapons acquisitions, and $38.6 million for air force missile procurement.

Most notably, the bill allocates $4 billion for the Iron Dome missile defense and David’s Sling air defense systems, critical in intercepting Hamas rockets and missiles.

There is $1.35 billion for research, development, testing, and evaluating of Israel’s defense—$1.2 billion of which can be used for developing the Iron Beam defense system, which is designed to intercept short-range rockets.

Finally, the bill allocates $3.65 billion for State Department operations in Israel.

The bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the Senate president pro tempore and chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The White House has said that President Joe Biden would veto the measure if it were to arrive on his desk.

“The President would veto an only-Israel bill. I think that we’ve made that clear,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Nov. 2.

Mr. Johnson declined to comment on the White House’s veto threat.

Reaction to IRS Offset

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is part of the White House, lamented in a statement that “rather than putting forward a package that strengthens American national security in a bipartisan way, the bill fails to meet the urgency of the moment by deepening our divides and severely eroding historic bipartisan support for Israel’s security.”

The OMB warned that the bill “inserts partisanship into support for Israel, making our ally a pawn in our politics, at a moment we must stand together,” and said it omits humanitarian assistance for Palestinians.

The agency said that by stripping IRS funding, the bill “sets a new and dangerous precedent by conditioning assistance for Israel, further politicizing our support and treating one ally differently from others.”

This offset, the OMB added, is a “poison pill.”

Ahead of the vote, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the ranking member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, said this was the first time that Congress would be voting on a conditional Israel assistance bill.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), before the vote, called the legislation “a political gotcha bill.”

However, Republicans defended the IRS offset in the bill.

“I think that’s an excellent move,” Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.) told The Epoch Times on Nov. 1.

“That’s a strong move by him to put Israel out there, standalone and paid for,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told reporters on Nov. 1, referring to Mr. Johnson (R-La.).

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) told Epoch Times sister media outlet NTD that he would be fine with a standalone Israel funding bill, but not with any offsets.

The OMB called for Congress to pass President Biden’s $105 billion supplemental funding request that includes assistance for not only Israel but also Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific, and border security. It also requests humanitarian assistance for Gaza, which Hamas controls, and Israel.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) told NTD that he was against the Republican bill because it didn’t include the other things the Biden administration requested, including assistance to Ukraine.

“I’m supporting a package that includes dealing with all of the issues,” he said.

Mr. Costa accused the GOP of “playing politics” with assistance to Israel.

While Democrats have called for pairing assistance to Israel with aid to Ukraine, Republicans have said the two should be dealt with separately. However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have called for Ukraine and Israel assistance to be passed simultaneously.

U.S. assistance to Israel goes back to two years before the Jewish state declared its independence in 1948. Israel received economic assistance between 1971 and 2007. The United States gave Israel more than $114.4 billion in military assistance between 1946 and 2023, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

Congress gives Israel $3.8 billion annually, $3.3 billion of which is defense assistance.

NTD’s Melina Wisecup contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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