newsIsrael at War

House GOP rejects Senate compromise aid package, with billions for Israel

GOP leaders, who proposed stand-alone Israel funding, said the Senate bill is “dead on arrival,” for insufficiently addressing the immigration crisis on the U.S. southern border.

Iron Dome aerial interceptions of Hamas rockets in southern Israel. Credit: Oren Ravid/Shutterstock.
Iron Dome aerial interceptions of Hamas rockets in southern Israel. Credit: Oren Ravid/Shutterstock.

House Republican leaders rejected the Senate’s compromise foreign-aid supplemental bill, which includes billions of dollars to support Israel’s war against Hamas, on Monday.

The Senate released its compromise bill—the result of months of negotiations between the Republican Senate minority and Democratic majority leadership, and the Biden administration, on Sunday. It includes $14.1 billion for Israel, $60 billion for Ukraine and $20 billion to address the migration crisis at the U.S. southern border.

While House and Senate Republicans support aid to Israel, they have stalled the funding package since U.S. President Joe Biden first proposed it in October over the amount of money it gives Kyiv and the initial lack of reforms to U.S. border security.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), lead negotiator on the compromise bill, said that the new proposal is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to close our open border.”

“The border security bill will put a huge number of new enforcement tools in the hands of a future administration and push the current administration to finally stop the illegal flow,” Lankford stated. “The bill provides funding to build the wall, increase technology at the border and add more detention beds, more agents and more deportation flights.”

Of the $14.1 billion earmarked for Israel, $10.6 billion is U.S. Defense Department funding, including $4 billion for the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems and $1.2 billion for further development of the Iron Beam laser defense system to counter short-range rockets. Another $3.5 billion is U.S. State Department grant for Israel to pay for American military materiel and services. 

The aid package also includes $2.4 billion to support U.S. operations in the Red Sea to defend international shipping from Yemen’s Houthi rebels, as well as $9.2 billion in global humanitarian assistance that includes support for Gaza. 

A bill provision precludes any of that money being given to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused of being “infiltrated with Hamas.”

Biden urged the Senate bill’s immediate passage.

“This agreement also provides Israel what they need to protect their people and defend itself against Hamas terrorists,” Biden stated on Sunday. “It will provide life-saving humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people.”

‘Sophisticated trap’

Despite months of compromise negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans, the leadership of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives rejected the bill on Monday, claiming that it would “incentivize more illegal immigration.”

“Any consideration of this Senate bill in its current form is a waste of time,” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) stated jointly. “It is dead on arrival in the House. We encourage the U.S. Senate to reject it.”

That sentiment was echoed on Monday by former President Donald Trump.

“The ridiculous ‘Border’ Bill is nothing more than a highly sophisticated trap for Republicans to assume the blame on what the Radical Left Democrats have done to our Border, just in time for our most important EVER Election,” Trump posted on social media. “Don’t fall for it!!!”

As continued support for Ukraine’s war effort against Russia increasingly divides the GOP caucus, many Republicans cited U.S. aid to Kyiv in rejecting the bill. 

“The Senate ‘border bill’ shells out $60 billion to Ukraine and only $20 billion for our southern border,” wrote Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.). “We cannot become the United States of Ukraine.”

Stand-alone bill

In a letter to House Republicans on Saturday, Johnson wrote that he would put forward a stand-alone Israel bill in the House. The House passed a $14.3 billion Israel aid bill in November but attached it to spending cuts to the Internal Revenue Service that were unviable in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The Biden administration said the stand-alone proposal for Israel aid was insufficient and rejected it on Sunday.

“We regard the ploy—and we see it as a ploy that’s been put forward on the House side right now—as not being a serious effort to deal with the national security challenges America faces,” Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security advisor, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Taking the lead for congressional progressives, who want to condition U.S. military aid to Israel on its military conduct in Gaza or to halt such aid altogether, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) suggested that he would oppose both the Senate compromise and House stand-alone bills.

“If we continue to fund Netanyahu’s indiscriminate war, how can we, with a straight face, criticize Putin’s targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine as a war crime?” Sanders wrote. “For the sake of the Palestinian people and our own standing in the world, we must not provide another dollar for the Netanyahu war machine.”

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