Lawmakers Shoot Down Israel Aid Bill

Lawmakers Shoot Down Israel Aid Bill

( – To say things aren’t going smoothly in Congress would be an understatement. The House has found passing legislation especially challenging, and with another possible government shutdown looming, they’re running out of time. Things are especially contentious over funding for Ukraine and Israel because the House has tied those spending packages that the administration desperately wants to provisions for border security. However, while they’re hashing that out, representatives presented a standalone bill to vote for Israel funding. That didn’t go well.

Republican lawmakers have worked on the bill, H.R. 7217, in different forms for a few weeks, and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) revealed the week of January 29 that he would bring it to a vote. It contained no offsetting spending cuts. Johnson finally presented the bill for a vote on Tuesday, February 6, but it failed to pass the Lower Chamber, where it needed a two-thirds majority vote to pass on an expedited process. However, the final tally was 250-180, with 14 Republicans opposing the bill and 46 Democrats supporting it.

Several Democrats spoke out about the bill, which would have allocated $17.6 billion in military aid to Israel in addition to “important funding for US forces in the region,” according to Johnson’s office. Yet, in floor remarks, Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) called the move a “profoundly cynical, political maneuver,” and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) accused House leadership of “introduc[ing it] to get ahead of the Senate’s bipartisan security supplemental.” The Biden Administration, anticipating the bipartisan Senate package, threatened that President Joe Biden would use his veto power should the House measure make it through the Senate.

Inversely, Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the House Appropriations Committee chair, characterized the legislation as “a strong message” showing how the US “supports our great ally.”

On February 8, the Senate voted to advance a separate $95.3 billion foreign aid bill including but not limited to funds for both Ukraine and Israel. It’s unclear whether the bill will gain enough support for approval in the House.

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