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House Passes Aid Package to Israel With IRS Cuts

Passage of the package, which is offset by cuts to IRS funding, sets up a clash with the Senate and has no prospects of being signed into law.

The House narrowly approved an aid package for Israel on Thursday – a vote that ordinarily would have been an easy bipartisan victory but one complicated by Democrats’ accusation of a political “poison pill” in the GOP’s attempt to offset the new spending with cuts to the IRS.

In a 226-196 vote, 12 Democrats joined all but two Republicans to approve the legislation, which stands apart from the package the White House requested by leaving out humanitarian aid for Gaza and military support to Ukraine while also being paid for by cuts to IRS funding. It has no prospects in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Democrats largely opposed the $14.3 billion aid package, acknowledging that while they support aid for Israel, the mechanism for providing it, along with the lack of funding in other areas, made it a nonstarter.

“What the House Republicans have done is unprecedented and will mean any aid to Israel will be delayed,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Democrat, said ahead of the vote. “This is the first time we have conditioned aid to Israel. Is Israel less important than other national emergencies? Is Israel just a budget line?”

Though House Republicans had intended to offset the cost of the aid package with cuts to IRS funding granted in the Inflation Reduction Act – a key legislative victory for Democrats – the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the package would add billions of dollars to the federal debt by reducing what the agency takes in through taxes.

Adding to the package’s troubles, the White House issued a veto threat against the proposal, saying that it “fails to meet the urgency of the moment by deepening our divides and severely eroding historic bipartisan support for Israel’s security.” Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the upper chamber won’t consider the “deeply flawed proposal” while it works on its own funding package that, in addition to aid for Israel, includes funding for Ukraine and humanitarian assistance for Gaza.

Nevertheless, Speaker Mike Johnson forged ahead with the vote, seeming to dare Democrats to oppose the aid package.

“If Democrats in the Senate or the House or anywhere else want to argue that hiring more IRS agents is more important than standing with Israel in this moment, I’m ready to have that debate,” Johnson said. “But I did not attach that for political purposes. I attached it because again we’re trying to get back to the principle of fiscal responsibility here. And that was the easiest and largest pile of money that’s sitting there for us to be able to pay for this immediate obligation.”

The bill’s passage sets up a clash with the Senate that could drag on in the coming days and weeks.

SOurce: US News