Economy

Speaker Johnson reveals $17 billion Israel aid bill, says Senate ‘will no longer have excuses’

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Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., is putting legislation on the House floor next week to give Israel $17.6 billion in emergency funding.

The timing is notable given that Senate and White House negotiators are expected to release legislative text this weekend for a border security compromise in addition to President Biden’s $106 billion supplemental funding request for Ukraine, Israel, humanitarian causes and other issues.

In a letter sent to Republican colleagues on Saturday, Johnson criticized the House GOP majority’s exclusion from those talks and argued they were not moving fast enough to help Israel in its war against Hamas.

‘While the Senate appears poised to finally release text of their supplemental package after months of behind closed doors negotiations, their leadership is aware that by failing to include the House in their negotiations, they have eliminated the ability for swift consideration of any legislation,’ Johnson warned.

‘Given the Senate’s failure to move appropriate legislation in a timely fashion, and the perilous circumstances currently facing Israel, the House will continue to lead. Next week, we will take up and pass a clean, standalone Israel supplemental package.’

One of the first House votes Johnson held as speaker was a standalone Israel funding bill for roughly $14 billion, the amount requested by Biden in his supplemental aid package. However, that bill would have offset the funds by taking them from money allocated toward the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) — a move lauded by GOP hardliners.

But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., refused to take the bill up and accused Johnson of mixing ‘a poison pill’ with Israel aid. 

‘During debate in the House and in numerous subsequent statements, Democrats made clear that their primary objection to the original House bill was with its offsets,’ Johnson wrote on Saturday. ‘The Senate will no longer have excuses, however misguided, against swift passage of this critical support for our ally.’

He said the legislative text would be released on Saturday afternoon by Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense spending.

Republicans have demanded strict border and immigration policy changes in exchange for supporting funds for Ukraine, an issue a growing number of GOP lawmakers have been wary of. Biden’s supplemental funding request includes roughly $60 billion to help Kyiv fight off Russia’s invasion. 

But Johnson and dozens of members of his conference have suggested they’ll likely oppose the compromise. Most have signaled they will not accept less than the measures in H.R. 2, the House GOP border bill that Democrats called a nonstarter. 

Johnson and others have also called on Biden to use his executive authority to shut down the border, while the White House has insisted a legislative fix is necessary and have accused the House GOP of using the border as an election issue.

Schumer said earlier this week that he aims to have a vote on the Senate’s package by Wednesday.

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