A new proposal put forth by House Republicans has ignited a contentious debate with Democrats over the allocation of funds. The plan, unveiled on Monday, aims to reallocate resources from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel. This move has sparked a clash between the two parties, as the Democrats currently hold the majority in the Senate.
The proposal marks one of the initial significant policy initiatives by the newly elected House speaker, Mike Johnson, who took office last week. Notably, Johnson had previously voiced opposition to providing aid to Ukraine prior to assuming his position as speaker. Despite Joe Biden's request for a comprehensive $106 billion package that includes aid for both Israel and Ukraine, Johnson emphasized his desire to separate the two issues.
Johnson stressed the necessity for increased oversight of the financial assistance sent to Ukraine in light of ongoing Russian aggression. However, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed optimism that the House would support additional funding for Ukraine's military. He acknowledged the existence of political resistance surrounding the bill, but argued that it would be a disservice for US lawmakers not to prioritize their own interests.
In a recent interview on Fox News, Johnson defended his intention to "bifurcate" the funding for Israel and Ukraine, underscoring the need to enhance support for Israel as a top priority for US national security. Johnson's remarks drew criticism from Democrats, who accused Republicans of obstructing assistance to Israel through the introduction of a partisan bill.
Democrats have expressed their disapproval of what they see as Republicans politicizing national security. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the proposal, labelling it as an impractical option. For the bill to become law, it would require approval from both houses of Congress, as well as President Joe Biden's signature.
Rosa DeLauro, the top Democratic representative on the House appropriations committee, issued a statement denouncing House Republicans for setting a dangerous precedent. DeLauro argued that protecting national security or responding to natural disasters should not be contingent on making cuts to other programs.
The Israel bill presented by House Republicans is set to undergo review by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, further exacerbating the divide between the two parties.