The House of Representatives approved a $14.5 billion military aid package for Israel on Thursday, a strong response from the United States in the war against Hamas, but also showing a partisan approach from the new House Speaker, Mike Johnson, who represents a direct challenge to the Democrats and President Joe Biden.
In a departure from the norm, Johnson’s package calls for emergency aid to be offset by government spending cuts elsewhere. That tactic consolidated the new conservative Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, but also turned what was often a vote with bipartisan support into one that divided Democrats and Republicans. Biden said he would veto the proposal, which was passed largely along partisan lines.
Johnson said the Republican package would give Israel the aid it needs to protect itself, free hostages held by Hamas and eliminate the Palestinian militant group, “all while also working to ensure responsible spending on public and reduce the size of government.” “.
Democrats say the approach will only delay aid to Israel. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, warned that the “incredibly frivolous” bill had no chance of passing the upper house.
The first significant initiative by Congress to support Israel in the war fell well short of Biden’s request for nearly $106 billion, which would also support Ukraine in its fight against Russia, as well as the US’s attempt to counter China and addressing Mexican border security. .
It will also be Johnson’s first major test as House speaker, as the Republican majority tries to get back to work after a month of turmoil since Rep. Kevin McCarthy was fired as House speaker. Johnson said he would next discuss aid to Ukraine along with US border security, preferring to discuss Biden’s requests separately.
The White House’s veto warning indicated that Johnson’s approach “does not respond to the urgency of the moment” and would set a dangerous precedent by requiring that emergency funds come from cuts in other areas.