A GOP-backed bill to send $14.3 billion in aid to war-torn Israel is expected to reach the House floor Thursday, where it faces united Democratic opposition and a veto threat from President Biden.
Israel supporters in the Delaware Valley are watching to see if their local members of Congress — Democrats Rep. Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan and Mary Gay Scanlon — will side with their party or pass much-needed assistance to a longtime U.S. ally.
The bill would pay for the Israel aid by shifting money from the Inflation Reduction Act for increased IRS audits of American taxpayers and using it to fund the support.
Some DelVal Democrats have already made their stance clear.
“This is a political stunt and an outrage,” Houlahan wrote in a Newsweek commentary. “As recently as Sept. 28, the House indicated continued support of Ukraine with a vote of 311 to 117. That is why I loudly call for Johnson and my colleagues in the House to immediately vote for the president’s full supplemental in its entirety, as it was presented… The fates of all of us who value life, freedom, and democracy are connected, and right now these principles are under direct threat.”
But will Houlahan cast the vote in a nearly-tied House that kills the Israel aid bill? If she does, she’ll once again be voting with the GOP’s far-Right, as she and her fellow Democrats did when they backed MAGA Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz’s move to vacate the Speaker’s chair last month.
Also opposing the funding: far-Right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), perhaps best known for suggesting that space lasers funded by Jewish bankers were responsible for wildfires in the American West.
The Biden administration issued a statement to Congress condemning the plan to pay for aid to Israel with offsets, rather than new debt.
“This bill would break with the normal, bipartisan approach to providing emergency national security assistance by conditioning funding on offsets, politicizing aid to Israel, and treating Israel differently from our other allies and partners,” wrote the Office of Management and Budget in a letter to Congress. The letter then pivoted to aid for Ukraine. “[T]his bill provides no aid whatsoever to Ukraine. This is an urgent requirement—as Ukraine heads into a winter of unrelenting attacks on its civilian infrastructure, they need air defense to protect their cities and munitions to keep pressure on Vladimir Putin.”
New House Speaker Mike Johnson refuses to be deterred by the resistance noting that the aid bill cuts money meant for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). “I hope that everyone will put politics aside, get that bill over the line,” the Louisiana Republican told Fox News. “We’re not just going to print money and send it overseas…”
Scanlon and Dean are likely no votes.
Scanlon, a Montgomery County Democrat, reposted a tweet from Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) that said, “House Republicans want to withhold Israel aid in exchange for cuts to tax enforcement on large corporations and the wealthy. I’d like to say I’m shocked, but…”
Dean’s social media activity castigates Republicans for wanting to cut IRS funding. She’s furious that Republicans want to cut IRS funding, claiming that the party wants “to protect wealthy tax evaders.”
On Tuesday, however, she called for a “humanitarian pause” — a phrase sometimes used to mean “ceasefire” in Israel’s military actions in Gaza.
“Israel has the right – the responsibility – to dismantle Hamas terrorism,” Dean said in a statement. However, she added, “I am calling for a humanitarian pause in hostilities in Israel and Gaza in order to prioritize the health and safety of civilians. We must protect the lives of Palestinian civilians, Gazans – half of whom are children – who have no affiliation with Hamas.”
None of the members of Congress responded to media inquiries about the upcoming vote.
“How this comes together is still an open question,” said Senate Minority White John Thune (R-S.D.). “There will probably be a negotiation between the House and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, and probably some of our own members.”