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June 17, 2024

House to Vote on Standalone Israel Aid Bill, Splitting from Broader Senate Package

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Feb 3, 2024

House Speaker Mike Johnson announced on Saturday that the House will vote next week on a standalone bill to provide $17.6 billion in emergency military aid to Israel, separating the aid from a broader Senate-passed package that also included border security funding and support for Ukraine.

House Drafts Emergency Aid Bill for Israel After Exclusion from Senate Talks

The decision comes after Johnson accused the Senate of cutting House Republicans out of negotiations over the border security and Ukraine aid package. He said the House will vote on a “clean” Israel aid bill that is not offset by spending cuts elsewhere.

“House Republicans were shut out of negotiations that produced the Senate border security and Ukraine aid package earlier this week,” Johnson said. “As a result, House lawmakers were unable to ensure the inclusion of emergency funding for Israel in that package.”

The $17.6 billion in aid the House bill contains would help pay for Israel’s replenishment of its Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow missile defense systems after heavy depletion during recent fighting.

House Vote Defies Bipartisan Senate Deal on Border Security, Ukraine Aid

The House action threatens to upend a fragile bipartisan agreement in the Senate on border security and Ukraine aid. The Senate package, passed earlier this week, contained $25 billion in border security investments as well as an additional $12 billion in military assistance for Ukraine.

By breaking off Israel aid into a separate bill, House Republican leaders hope to force the Senate – which is still narrowly controlled by Democrats – to choose between approving the aid for Israel on its own or rejecting it.

White House Opposed to Breaking Up Senate Package

The White House responded that it does not support breaking up interlinked border security, Ukraine aid, and Israel funding into separate bills. Press Secretary Ron Klain said the issues should be dealt with “comprehensively.”

Key Democrats in the House, including Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Joaquin Castro, also criticized the Republican move:

“It is self-defeating to decouple assistance for Israel’s security from the security initiatives in the comprehensive bill,” Castro wrote on Twitter. “All three elements must pass Congress together.”

Fate of Broader Senate Deal in Doubt as House Pursues Israel-Only Bill

With the House plowing ahead with an Israel-specific aid package, it remains unclear whether the Senate’s bipartisan border security and Ukraine aid deal can survive.

Some Senate Republicans have begun advocating for breaking up the Senate legislation and voting on the border funds and Ukraine aid separately. Key GOP senators including Richard Shelby and Jim Inhofe told reporters this could be a way forward.

But doing so would require changes to rules in the Senate limiting amendments. It risks losing support among the 12 Democratic senators who originally backed the bipartisan border/Ukraine package.

Israel Aid Likely to Pass on Bipartisan Basis, Despite Maneuvering

Despite the partisan maneuvering, emergency aid to Israel is still expected to ultimately pass Congress on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis. Israel remains popular in both parties, and the funds are seen as crucial after over 1,500 rockets were fired at Israel in December and January.

Defense System Interceptors Used in Recent Crisis Cost Per Interceptor Total Replenishment Cost
Iron Dome 620 $50,000 $31 billion
David’s Sling 58 $2 million $116 million
Arrow 3 13 $3 million $39 million

Providing emergency funds to replenish these missile defense systems has wide, bipartisan support among lawmakers. The aid package may become a vehicle for political messaging, but leaders predict final passage.

Outlook: Standalone Israel Aid Likely, Fate of Border Security/Ukraine Funding Uncertain

The House action complicates efforts to secure bipartisan funding deals on border security and Ukraine aid. But support for emergency Israel aid remains broad.

After House passage, the Senate would face intense pressure not to reject or slow-walk the Israel aid – but doing so could undermine the compromise border/Ukraine package. With limited time left before the fiscal year deadline, Congress faces a complex balancing act across multiple priorities in the coming weeks.

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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.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

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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