Democratic lawmakers are accusing newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) of playing “political games” with the House GOP’s aid package for Israel, which would cut billions in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Johnson and House Republicans unveiled Monday the $14.3 billion aid package, which would be covered by offsetting the same amount from IRS funding.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is Jewish, railed against Johnson’s proposal, saying she was “deeply disturbed” by it, describing it as an “unprecedented offset.”
The impacted funds were included in the Inflation Reduction Act passed last year, a sweeping economic legislation package that aimed to tackle inflation, increase jobs and decrease drug costs.
The GOP’s legislation includes $4 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems and another $1.2 billion for the development of the Iron Beam defense system.
The stand-alone bill for Israel aid also 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.
The House Republican bill matches the amount of money for Israel included in the White House’s funding request.
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.
Wasserman Schultz said Monday the “extreme tactic undercuts” credibility and fuels the notion that “America must choose between providing for our neighbors and pushing back against genocidal terrorists who kill and kidnap Israelis and Americans.”
“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,” she wrote Monday in a statement. “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.”
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, said offsetting the Israel aid with IRS funding cuts sets a “dangerous precedent.”
“Emergency supplemental funding is used to address urgent crises. House Republicans are setting a dangerous precedent by suggesting that protecting national security or responding to natural disasters is contingent upon cuts to other programs,” DeLauro wrote in a statement. “The partisan bill House Republicans introduced stalls our ability to help Israel defend itself and does not include a penny for humanitarian assistance.”
DeLauro claimed House Democrats are “ready to work” with their Republican colleagues, who instead chose to introduce a “partisan bill” that “abandons” the country’s allies in Europe and the Indo-Pacific and lacks domestic investments.
“We are wasting time that our allies abroad and the American people living paycheck to paycheck do not have to spare,” DeLauro continued.
Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) on Monday said he would vote for the bill.
“It violates Republicans’ single subject spending rule. It adds to the deficit. I will support Israel,” he said.
Senate Democrats were also quick to criticize the IRS funding cuts, with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urging for Biden’s entire supplemental request to move through Congress.
“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 Monday 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.”
Senate Foreign Relations Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told reporters the House GOP bill is a “nonstarter” and a “poison pill.”
The bill is one of the first introduced under Johnson as Speaker, who was elected last week after the House had been paralyzed by the historic ousting of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier this month.
Last week, the House passed a resolution backing Israel and condemning Hamas, marking the first piece of legislation passed under Johnson as Speaker.
Al Weaver and Mychael Schnell contributed to this report.