House Democrats are facing a challenging vote as Republicans, led by the newly appointed Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), consider a $14.3 billion aid bill for Israel. The bill includes cuts to IRS funding but offers no assistance to Ukraine, setting the stage for a contentious debate in the House.
The vote highlights the longstanding divisions within the Democratic Party between staunch allies of Israel, including President Biden, and pro-Palestinian liberals who accuse Israeli leaders of human rights abuses and war crimes in Gaza. This divide was evident last week when 15 Democrats declined to support a nonbinding resolution expressing U.S. support for Tel Aviv following Hamas’s recent deadly attacks.
Adding to the complexity, Republicans included cuts to IRS funding in the bill, further complicating the decision for Democrats who must choose between these two priorities.
While the bill is unlikely to progress beyond the House, as the vote is expected on Thursday, Republicans are sending a clear message by pushing it forward. They assert that supporting Israel and protecting innocent lives is a more immediate need than increasing IRS funding, a priority for many Democrats.
In a separate move, Republicans plan to vote on a resolution censuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the only Palestinian American member of Congress. Tlaib criticized U.S. aid to Israel for allegedly fueling the violence during the recent conflict with Hamas. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) initiated the vote.
House Democrats have generally supported additional aid for Israel, especially in the aftermath of Hamas’s unprecedented attack on the U.S. ally last month, which led to a conflict between the two sides. However, the proposed cuts to IRS funding and the exclusion of Ukraine aid are fueling opposition among many Democrats. They argue that funding for both Israel and Ukraine should move through Congress together, and they criticize the GOP’s efforts to curtail the IRS’s ability to pursue tax evaders.
These dynamics have set the stage for a challenging vote for Democrats, reflecting Speaker Mike Johnson’s commitment to prioritize unity within the Republican conference over reaching across the aisle for bipartisan cooperation.
Republicans argue that Speaker Johnson is failing his first test. Democrats are torn between assisting Israel during a time of crisis and supporting IRS funding for modernizing the tax collection agency, a crucial component of their 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.
New House Speaker Mike Johnson is causing a commotion in Congress over a bill that would provide more than $14 billion in aid to Israel, but not include $61 billion in aid to Ukraine — as many House Democrats and Republicans want tied to the same measure. https://t.co/Lt70Ff7ekM
— ABC News (@ABC) October 31, 2023