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July 17, 2024

House GOP Pushes Forward On Controversial Israel Aid Package Despite Veto Threat

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Feb 6, 2024

Background On Aid Packages and Political Divides

Amid rising tensions in the Middle East and continued support for Ukraine against Russian aggression, House Republicans have put forward a standalone bill to provide over $17 billion in military assistance to Israel over the next decade. The move comes after months of unsuccessful negotiations with Senate Democrats on a broader aid package that would also include funds for Ukraine and increased border security.

House Speaker Mike Johnson introduced the new legislation on Friday after talks stalled on a bipartisan, Senate-approved bill that tied support for Israel and Ukraine to controversial immigration provisions. Progressive Democrats strongly opposed increased border enforcement funding not paired with a path to citizenship for Dreamers. At the same time, some Republicans argued the broader aid package did too little for Israeli security while subsidizing the war in Ukraine.

Key Components of The House GOP Israel Aid Bill

The new House GOP legislation, titled the “Israel Military Aid Supplemental Act of 2024,” would provide the following:

  • $12.4 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants to purchase U.S. defense equipment
  • $3.3 billion for research, development, and rapid acquisition of precision-guided missiles
  • $2 billion for cooperative missile defense programs like Iron Dome
  • Language reaffirming the U.S. commitment not to cooperate with or fund investigations at the International Criminal Court into alleged Israeli war crimes

The $17.6 billion total exceeds the amount Israel currently receives in military assistance and doubles funding for cooperative missile defense over previous years’ budgets. At the same time, the bill includes no money for Ukraine or increased border security.

White House Threatens Veto Over Exclusion of Ukraine Aid

Minutes after the GOP legislation was introduced, the White House issued a formal veto threat. Press Secretary Andrew Bates slammed House Republicans for “playing politics with vital security assistance” by separating Israel aid from the bipartisan Senate package. He reiterated President Biden’s stance that he will not sign standalone legislation that leaves behind other critical U.S. allies and interests.

“This House Republican Bill cynically leaves behind our other partners and would only weaken America’s interests around the world,” Bates said. He added that rather than working together on the reasonable Senate compromise, House GOP leaders were “bowing to the most extreme MAGA members” in their caucus.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed the White House’s position, saying he was “appalled” Republicans would abandon Ukraine to pass an extreme bill far beyond Israel’s actual defense needs. Progressive House Democrats also voiced their opposition, with Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum calling it a “gift basket to weapons manufacturers” paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

Divisions Within House GOP Could Force Changes Before Floor Vote

Despite the veto threat, Speaker Johnson says he plans to bring the controversial aid package to the floor for a vote next week. However, divisions among House Republicans could force changes to the bill before then.

Moderates and Republicans from competitive swing districts have expressed unease over both the exclusion of Ukraine aid and the bill’s size. “I think there’s growing consensus that this goes too far in focusing narrowly on Israeli security without considering the broader geopolitical context,” said New York Rep. Jim Himes, a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus.

At the same time, around 30 members of the far-right Freedom Caucus have threatened to vote against any aid to Israel at all based on conspiracy theories about Jewish control, presenting another obstacle. With Democrats unified in opposition, Johnson can’t afford more than 4 GOP defections for the bill to pass. As a result, changes allowing some level of Ukraine assistance while reducing the topline may be necessary to build a working majority.

Broader Implications and Outlook Going Forward

Beyond the specific policy implications, the controversial GOP bill has become a flashpoint in the ongoing partisan standoff that has defined the divided 117th Congress. With the White House threatening a veto and bipartisan opposition in both chambers, the legislation is unlikely to actually become law anytime soon. Instead, House Republicans are using it primarily as messaging legislation to appease their base ahead of the 2024 elections.

At the same time, Senate Democrats have reiterated they will not consider any standalone aid legislation excluding Ukraine or border funding. As a result, the impasse likely foreshadows continued dysfunction and gridlock on major national security issues for the foreseeable future. Ultimately, some level of compromise or risking backlash for failing to provide any additional support to key allies may force the two sides back to the negotiating table. But with trust depleted on both sides, bridging the divides to pass critical aid packages faces high hurdles.

Table 1: Key Components of House GOP Israel Aid Bill

Provision Funding
Foreign Military Financing $12.4 billion
Missile Defense Cooperation $2 billion
Missile Precision Technology $3.3 billion
Total $17.6 billion
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By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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