The Republican party in the House of Representatives wants to fund emergency assistance for Israel by reducing the budget for the Internal Revenue Service. This sets the stage for a potential clash with the White House and the Senate, both of which are controlled by Democrats, over the best way to show support for a crucial ally of the United States.
The Republican-controlled House released a separate proposal on Monday for $14.3 billion in funding to support Israel. This would be achieved by reducing the budget for the IRS, which was previously designated for this purpose in President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.
On Monday, House Speaker Mike Johnson informed Fox News that there will be provisions for payments included in the bill. He emphasized that the government will not simply print money and send it abroad.
Two weeks ago, an aid package totaling $105 billion was announced. This included $14 billion designated for Israel and $61 billion allocated for Ukraine.
Johnson, a proponent of dividing the assistance bundles, recognized that the reductions to the Internal Revenue Service may not be well-received by members of the Democratic party. However, he stated his intention to have a direct and considerate dialogue with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Johnson explained to Fox News that he acknowledges the importance placed on strengthening the IRS. However, he believes that if the decision was put to the American people, they would prioritize standing with Israel and protecting innocent individuals there as it aligns with our national interest and is a more pressing matter than increasing the number of IRS agents.
In 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act was passed and it allocated a significant amount of money towards Democratic goals surrounding climate change, healthcare expenses, and taxes. It also increased the budget for the IRS by $80 billion, enabling them to recruit numerous agents and modernize their outdated technological systems. According to specialists, these improvements and staff additions were necessary and will enhance the agency’s efficiency in handling tax filings. However, this provision was met with disfavor from Republican legislators.
Johnson has expressed his desire for increased transparency and responsibility regarding the financial aid being provided to Ukraine in response to Russia’s invasion. He has specifically requested that the White House provide a breakdown of where the funds are being allocated and what the ultimate goal is in the conflict.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, referred to the bill as a “nonstarter” and expressed concern over its potential to undermine our longstanding alliance with one of our closest allies.
In a statement on Monday, she expressed concern that requesting compensation in exchange for meeting essential national security objectives, such as aiding Israel and protecting Ukraine from aggression and expansion from Russia, would deviate from the usual bipartisan approach and could have drastic consequences for our safety and international relationships in the future.
On Monday, Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut, who holds a prominent position on the House Appropriations Committee, expressed concern about using cuts to the IRS to balance out emergency aid. She believes this could establish a risky precedent.
“The Connecticut Democrat expressed concern over the House Republicans’ proposed bill, stating that it sets a risky precedent of tying national security and disaster response to budget cuts for other programs. The bill, which is largely partisan, would hinder our ability to aid Israel in its own defense and lacks any funding for humanitarian assistance.”
On Monday, Republican Senator Susan Collins from Maine, who is the vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, expressed her preference for combining assistance to Ukraine and Israel.
She was questioned about her worries regarding balancing emergency expenses and budget cuts, to which she responded, “Indeed, the issue is where does it ultimately lead?”
On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee intends to address the Republican proposal regarding Israel.
Reporting was contributed by Alan He.