In a move that signals diverging approaches to fiscal policy and foreign aid within the United States government, the House of Representatives, with a notable cross-party support, approved a Republican-led bill that proposes a direct trade-off: increase funding for Israel’s defense by reducing the budget of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The bill, which aims to allocate $14.3 billion for Israel, garnered the backing of twelve Democratic House members alongside Republican supporters, resulting in a 226-196 vote in favor. The measure will now proceed to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats and where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has made it clear that it won’t be considered. Schumer has proposed a separate bipartisan aid package that will address aid not only for Israel but also for Ukraine, Gaza humanitarian efforts, and competition with China.
The twelve Democrats who voted in support of the House measure are Representatives Angie Craig, Don Davis, Lois Frankel, Jared Golden, Josh Gottheimer, Greg Landsman, Jared Moskowitz, Darren Soto, Haley Stevens, Juan Vargas, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson. Congresswoman Frankel, advocating for the bill, stated, “The United States has a moral duty and national security urgency to aid Israel in defending herself.”
However, the bill was not without its detractors from both parties, as Representatives Thomas Massie and Marjorie Taylor Greene, both Republicans, voted against the bill, with concerns over the country’s financial status and prioritization of other security issues, respectively.
The absence of votes from eleven members of the House—five Republicans and six Democrats—was noted without an official explanation for their absence.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has asked Congress for a comprehensive national security funding package totaling around $106 billion, encompassing aid for various allies and strategic interests, including Israel and Ukraine. The White House has signaled a potential veto for the House GOP measure, criticizing the bill for potentially worsening partisan divides and jeopardizing bipartisan support for Israel. This stance is bolstered by a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis indicating the proposed offsets could decrease revenues and ultimately increase the federal deficit over the next decade.
Amidst this fiscal tug-of-war, the GOP aims to counteract a portion of the funding that President Biden had previously earmarked for the IRS through the Inflation Reduction Act, suggesting a reallocation of up to $21.4 billion previously allocated for IRS modernization and enforcement efforts.
House Speaker Mike Johnson underscored the critical nature of the nation’s financial situation, emphasizing the imperative to manage the national debt, which looms at $33.7 trillion. Speaker Johnson, while acknowledging the importance of assisting Israel, insisted on a fiscally responsible approach, indicating a focus on federal spending cuts. The Speaker also hinted at future negotiations around aid to Ukraine, suggesting it may be paired with domestic concerns such as border security.
The House’s decision marks a significant moment in the ongoing debate over how the United States balances international aid with domestic fiscal responsibilities. As the proposed bill moves to the Senate, the diverging priorities of the two legislative bodies will come into sharper focus, with the outcome having potentially significant implications for U.S. foreign policy and internal financial practices.