US Senate Promises to Bury Israel-Only Aid Bill

Wednesday, 1 November 2023

US senators from both parties expressed doubts on 31 October about a plan by House Republicans to provide US$14.3 billion in aid to Israel separately from support for Ukraine.

As Reuters reported, republicans in the US House of Representatives introduced a separate bill on additional spending just for Israel on 30 October as part of new Speaker Mike Johnson's first major legislative initiative.

The draft bill was introduced despite President Joe Biden's request for US$106 billion which included aid to Israel and Ukraine, funding to increase competition with China in the Indo-Pacific region, and security on the US border with Mexico.

Republicans hold a majority in the House of Representatives (221 to 212 votes), but Biden's Democrat allies control the Senate (51-49). The bill must pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate to become law, as well as be signed by Biden.

The top Democrat in the Senate said even if the Republican bill passed the House, it "would be dead on arrival" in the upper chamber.

"The bottom line is it’s not a serious proposal," Senate Democratic Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, told journalists.

Biden’s team has hinted that the president would veto such a bill if it gets to his desk.

"This bill is bad for Israel, for the Middle East region, and for our own national security," the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said.

Republican Senate leader Senator Mitch McConnell feels that all four issues should be addressed, he said.

"We need to treat all four of these areas, all four of them, Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and the border," McConnell told reporters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Speaker Johnson on 31 October after testifying in the Senate, where Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that Ukraine needs further US assistance to win the fight against the Russian occupiers.

Matthew Miller, Spokesperson for the US Department of State, said they discussed Biden's request for support for Ukraine and Israel, among other issues.

Republicans are expected to vote on the bill in the House of Representatives as early as this week.

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