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House fails to pass GOP-led Israel aid bill
House fails to pass GOP-led Israel aid bill
by Sheri Walsh
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 6, 2024

The U.S. House voted down a standalone bill Tuesday to provide $17.6 billion in aid to Israel in its war against Hamas.

The Republican-led measure failed in a 250 to 180 vote after it was considered under an expedited procedure that required two-thirds approval. The vote was not along party lines, as nearly four dozen Democrats voted "yes" and 14 Republicans voted "no."

"Israel has a lower debt to GDP ratio than the United States," Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky wrote in a post on X. "This spending package has no offsets, so it will increase our debt by $14.3 billion plus interest."

House Speaker Mike Johnson blasted President Joe Biden on Tuesday for killing the bill by threatening a veto over his preference for a larger national security package.

"Democrats have been unable to present any substantive policy objection in the current legislation," Johnson, R-La., wrote in a statement. "It is clear they are now committed to using Israel aid as leverage to force through other priorities that do not enjoy nearly the same degree of consensus. Leveraging Israel aid as it fights for survival is wrong."

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi called the bill "a trap," as Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., labeled it a "political stunt."

"This political stunt does not include any humanitarian assistance," DeLauro argued.

While Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., urged Johnson to advance foreign assistance bills separately, he wanted to see humanitarian aid for Gaza in the Israel measure.

"I believe that there are 300 votes for Ukraine. There are 400 votes for Israel," Hoyer said in an interview. "Not putting humanitarian aid in this bill is a despicable continuation of Republican policy, which says to the American people and the rest of the world: You're on your own."

According to Johnson, House Republicans were excluded from talks on bipartisan Senate legislation that included aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as funding and policy changes for the U.S. border with Mexico. The exclusion, Johnson argued, prompted the standalone bill for Israel aid in the House.

"After months of behind-closed-door 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 said Saturday, as Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the negotiations and agreement "a product of compromise, hard work and persistence."

On Sunday, the Senate released the full text of the border security deal, which included aid to Israel, as Johnson deemed it "dead on arrival."

Following Tuesday's House vote against the standalone bill, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul, R-Texas, introduced a new bill that would combine aid to Israel and Ukraine.

"It would probably come back from the Senate, would be my guess," McCaul said.

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