House Republicans unveiled a $14.3 billion aid package for Israel on Monday, a show of support for the embattled U.S. ally amid its war against Hamas.
To pay for the foreign aid, however, the legislation includes $14.3 billion in cuts to funding for the Internal Revenue Service, a key detail that will likely be a non-starter for Democrats.
The cuts would affect funds included in the Democrats’ sweeping tax, health and climate bill — dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act — signed into law last year.
The package also deviates from the White House’s strategy of linking aid for Ukraine and Israel in the same piece of legislation, a fact that could make it even more difficult to get the bill over the finish line.
The legislation includes $4 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems and another $1.2 billion for development of the Iron Beam defense system.
The package is one of the first pieces of legislation introduced under Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who assumed the top job last week after a brutal battle over who should succeed former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) following his ouster.
The House Rules Committee will take up the legislation Wednesday.
Members of both parties and chambers have emphasized the importance of supporting Israel as it battles Hamas. Last week, the House overwhelmingly approved a resolution backing Israel and condemning Hamas, which was the first piece of legislation that passed during Johnson’s Speakership.
The cuts included in the House GOP’s Israel bill, and the absence of Ukraine funding in the legislation, will likely generate applause from conservative deficit hawks and Republicans skeptical of sending more aid to Ukraine.
At the same time, however, those details are expected to drive at least some Democratic opposition to the aid package despite strong support for Tel Aviv, setting the stage for a fight over support for the U.S.’s close ally in the Middle East.
Senate Foreign Relations Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) called the IRS funding cuts a “nonstarter” and “poison pill.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the cuts included in the House GOP’s aid bill, telling reporters Monday that an emergency funding request does not require offsets.
“Like other emergency funding that Congress has passed with bipartisan support, they do not require offsets. They just don’t,” Jean-Pierre said.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is Jewish, accused Johnson of playing “political games” and called the measure “offensive.”
“Support for defending Israel should not come with conditions, be it cutting foreign military financing by 30% or offsetting aid in a time of crucial need,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement before the text was unveiled. “I am deeply disturbed by Speaker Johnson playing political games with Israeli emergency funding, something our nation has never done in a time of crisis.”
“When your neighbor’s house is on fire, you don’t haggle over the price of the garden hose,” she added. “Speaker Johnson’s political games are offensive to all pro-Israel Americans, and I hope he reverses course immediately.”
Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that he would vote for the bill — because “This is dead in the Senate. It violates Republicans single subject spending rule. It adds to the deficit. I will support Israel.”
“Foreign Policy and National Security being conducted as a future political mailer. ‘You chose the IRS over Israel’. I am not going to take the bait. There are American Hostages. This is not a game,” he wrote.
The White House earlier this month unveiled a roughly $100 billion emergency funding request that included money for Israel, Ukraine, border security and allies in the Indo-Pacific.
The House GOP bill matches the amount of money for Israel included in the White House’s supplemental.
But the exclusion of Ukraine aid is likely to spark howls from the White House and congressional Democrats, who have been adamant about moving support for the two U.S. allies together. Some Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have also called for passing aid both for Israel and Ukraine.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday advocated for moving Biden’s entire supplemental request.
“The way forward is exceptionally clear: We must pass the president’s supplemental request, which has funding for Israel, Ukraine, the South-Pacific, while also supplying critical humanitarian aid for Gaza,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “America does not have the luxury of burying our head in the sand or leaving our friends to fend for themselves. If we want the world to remain a safe place for freedom, for Democratic principles and for America’s prosperity, we must defend against those who are working hard to undermine us.”
“We must not succumb to the false allures of isolationism that the hard right now professes, because the only thing that will achieve is to make America less safe,” he later added.
Updated at 5:47 p.m. Brett Samuels, Alex Gangitano and Al Weaver contributed.