‘We’re trying to change how Washington works,’ he said.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Nov. 5 defended the $14 billion Israel aid package passed by the House last week amid criticism from the Senate and White House.
Mr. Johnson’s proposal would allocate around $14 billion in aid to Israel, paid for by making an equal cut to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funding—a proposal that has been controversial, particularly among Democrats.
Last week, in a mostly party-line vote with a handful of defections on both sides, the House agreed in a 226–196 vote to pass Mr. Johnson’s bill. Two Republicans—Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who object to sending any foreign aid—voted against the bill. On the other side of the aisle, twelve Democrats broke ranks to support the package.
But with its passage through the House, the package will next need to make headway in the Senate, where it faces much tougher odds.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said the Senate won’t take up the bill, which he called “deeply flawed.” Elsewhere, he’s called the proposal “not serious.”
Meanwhile President Joe Biden has vowed that he’ll veto any Congress-passed package that doesn’t also provide funding for Ukraine.
Last week, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby reiterated this position, saying, “The president would veto an only-Israel bill. I think we’ve made that pretty clear.”
Amid these hurdles, Mr. Johnson on Nov. 5 took to Fox News Sunday to defend his legislative proposal.
Anchor Shannon Bream cited Mr. Schumer’s comments on the proposal, as well as reports that Mr. Johnson and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were divided on the issue.
“Democrat and Republican leaders over in the Senate say there’s no way this standalone measure gets anywhere. The White House has said it would veto it anyway,” Ms. Bream said. “So with time of the essence, the urgency here, why waste time on a measure that has almost zero chance of actually aiding the Israeli people?”
Mr. Johnson replied, “It’s really surprising to hear Senator Schumer say that it’s not a serious proposal. It’s exactly what was requested, $14.5 billion.”
By Joseph Lord