Two leading pro-Israel Democrats blasted newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) aid package for Israel, arguing the Louisiana Republican is playing a “cynical game” by making aid for Israel conditional on cuts in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
In one of his first major policy moves as Speaker, Johnson and the House GOP earlier this week rolled out a $14.3 billion aid package for Israel. The aid would be covered by cutting the same amount from IRS funding, a detail that has provoked the ire of House Democrats.
In a scathing statement Thursday, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), the co-chair of the Israel Allies Caucus, said he cannot support the “terribly flawed, weak and dangerous bill.”
“In my worst nightmares, I never thought I would be asked to vote for a bill cynically conditioning aid to Israel on ceding to the partisan demands of one party,” Schneider said. “I also never thought a day would come that I would be asked to consider voting against an aid package for Israel, our most important ally in the Middle East, and maybe in the world.”
Schneider argued Republicans have “irresponsibly” attempted to use Israel as a “political, partisan wedge” for “too long.”
“Reflecting the cynicism of this move, their condition for supporting Israel will not pay for the aid our ally desperately needs, it will actually cost American taxpayers an additional $12.5 billion,” Schneider said.
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Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) similarly said Johnson is playing a “cheap cynical game” that “sets a dangerous precedent for conditioning emergency aid.”
“It represents a dangerous politicizing of Israel in a time of war,” Torres said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “It represents a dangerous decision to pursue division over unity and politics over principle.”
“The House should vote on a clean bill, with no poison bills, that would send an overwhelmingly bipartisan message of unconditional unity around Israel,” Torres continued. “… What is the point of voting on a cynically conceived bill that is dead on arrival in the Senate and that would be vetoed by the most the pro-Israel wartime President in history—the ONLY President to travel to Israel in a time of war?”
Schneider and Torres are among a growing chorus of House Democrats — including even the fiercest supporters of Israel — who have vowed to oppose the bill, which is set to hit the floor later Thursday.
There are some Democrats, however, who have indicated they plan to vote in favor of the aid, including Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), who criticized GOP leaders for pushing an “outrageous” proposal while saying he will vote yes as a show of solidarity with Israel.
While the bill is expected to pass in the Republican-led House, it is likely to be met with opposition from Democrats and some Republican leaders in the Senate. President Biden has said he would veto the House measure if it did pass in both chambers.
Johnson has said he did not attach the IRS funding cuts to the measure for “political purposes,” but rather to try “to get back to the principle of fiscal responsibility.”
Johnson’s stand-alone bill goes against President Biden’s previous $105 billion emergency funding request to Congress that included aid for Israel, Ukraine, security operations at the U.S.-Mexico border and allies in the Indo-Pacific.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have stressed the importance of supporting Israel in its fight against the militant group Hamas, which carried out a bloody incursion into the state earlier this month that has killed more than 1,400 people, including hundreds of civilians.
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