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7 Feb, 2024 15:47

US House rejects standalone Israel aid bill

The legislation proposed by Speaker Mike Johnson has failed to garner the required two thirds of the vote
US House rejects standalone Israel aid bill

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday torpedoed a bill aimed at providing $17.6 billion in American aid to Israel amid its crisis military operation in Gaza.

The failed legislation was an attempt by Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to exclude funding for Israel from the national security package, over which the administration of President Joe Biden and the lawmakers have remained in deadlock since October. The sides have been unable to find common ground as Republicans insist that further assistance to the Israeli and Ukrainian governments should be conditioned on increased domestic spending on protecting the US-Mexico border.

During the vote on Tuesday, the bill couldn’t attract the required two-thirds majority to pass, with 250 lawmakers supporting the legislation and 180 against it. The standalone aid package for Israel had been rejected by most of the Democrats, who were also joined by 14 Republicans.

Earlier this week, the White House issued a statement warning that President Biden would veto the legislation if it reached his desk. The statement described House Speaker Johnson’s proposal as “another cynical political maneuver” and noted that the administration had been for “months working with a bipartisan group of Senators to reach a national security agreement that secures the border and provides support for the people of Ukraine and Israel.” The White House stressed that “the security of Israel should be sacred, not a political game.”

The critics of the bill within the GOP said that they were concerned about the lack of spending cuts elsewhere in the budget to offset the $17.6-billion price tag.

For Johnson, it was a second defeat of the day as earlier on Tuesday the US House voted against impeaching Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, for which the Republicans had been pushing.

On Sunday, the US Senate announced a new $118-billion national security package, set to be voted on by the Senators this week. It includes $60 billion in military aid for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel and roughly $20 billion for funding US border policy changes.

Israel launched its military operation in Gaza in response to the October 7 incursion into the country by Palestinian armed group Hamas, in which around 1,200 people were killed and some 240 taken hostage. The attacks by the IDF have so far seen 27,708 Palestinians killed and 67,147 wounded, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Last month, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to take all necessary measures to prevent genocide in Gaza.