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New House of Representatives speaker introduces bill only on aid for Israel

Tuesday, 31 October 2023, 02:12
New House of Representatives speaker introduces bill only on aid for Israel
Mike Johnson. Photo: Getty Images

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives, led by incoming Speaker Mike Johnson, on 30 October introduced a separate US$14.3 billion aid plan for Israel alone, contrary to the White House's US$106 billion initiative which included aid to Ukraine.

Source: Bloomberg

Details: The news agency notes that this is a separate package of aid to Israel, as opposed to Biden's broader request for funding, which includes aid to Ukraine and Taiwan. It also does not include the humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza and Israel that the White House has requested.


Johnson's initiative provides US$14.3 billion in aid to Israel by cutting President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act.

"The offsetting cuts are a break with precedent since Congress typically doesn’t cut other programmes to pay for emergency spending," Bloomberg writes.

The package is one of the new speaker's first major legislative initiatives, and he told reporters he expects a vote in the House on 2 November. Johnson discussed the package with Biden last week.


"Separating Ukraine funds from more popular aid to Israel creates a risk that Congress will fail to continue help for the country’s counteroffensive against Russia, especially if House Republicans repeat a September attempt to require changes to US immigration laws in return for Ukraine funding," the article reads.

It also said Johnson's approach would strengthen support for the Israel package among House conservatives, but provoke opposition from Democrats, and the proposal is unlikely to pass the Senate without changes, potentially derailing funding.

The US$14 billion proposed by House Republicans for Israel matches Biden's request for that country.

The House package includes US$4 billion for Israel's Iron Dome and David's Sling air defence systems, manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and RTX. Another US$1.2 billion will go directly to developing Israel's Iron Beam defence system to counter short-range missiles.

The media adds that on 31 October, the US Senate plans to hold a hearing on the Biden administration’s request, at which Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State, and Lloyd Austin, United States Secretary of Defense, will address.

Background: Johnson, who has previously voted against aid to Ukraine, has said since becoming speaker last week that he supports funding for Ukraine but wants to treat it separately and is calling for increased oversight of spending.

Bipartisan talks are underway in the Senate to advance a combined package to address all aspects of Biden's US$106 billion request, including US$61.4 billion for Ukraine.

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