The House GOP majority will move forward this week with a new piece of legislation that is unlikely to result in anything more than sending a message to their counterparts in the Senate. The bill would provide more than 17 billion dollars for aid to Israel and replenish American arms stockpiles that have been depleted over the course of the wars in Gaza and Ukraine. In an attempt to demonstrate some bipartisanship, the bill does not include any matching spending cuts, something Democrats objected to in previous efforts. Speaker Mike Johnson pointedly left out any additional aid for Ukraine. The bill is not expected to have the required support to pass in the Senate. (Associated Press)
House Republicans will move forward with a $17.6 billion package next week that provides military aid to Israel and replenish U.S. weapons, but leaves out more help for Ukraine, underscoring the challenges facing supporters of a comprehensive national security package that would also include billions of dollars for immigration enforcement.
The move gives Speaker Mike Johnson and House Republicans the chance to show support for Israel even though there is little chance the Senate will go along. Meanwhile, text of a broader Senate compromise is expected to be released this weekend and a key test vote on that package will be held during the week.
Johnson said that Senate leadership is aware that by failing to include the House in their negotiations, they have eliminated the ability for swift consideration of any legislation.
Johnson is walking a tightrope here, but he seems to be doing a fairly skillful job of it thus far. He would like to avoid a government shutdown in an election year when the media would surely try to place all of the blame on the GOP. But he also can’t afford to simply cave in to the demands of the Democrats and ignore the promises he made to the conservatives in the House GOP caucus. He wants to demonstrate his support for Israel while not surrendering to the arm-twisting of the Biden administration and Senate Democrats.
This bill – along with HR2 – stakes out all of that ground without actually getting any work done. That may sound like an odd definition of “victory” but a lot of odd things happen in a divided government such as the one we have this year. Meanwhile, the Senate’s own bill that contains funding for both Ukraine and Israel is lashed to a disastrous boobytrap regarding border security that was installed by Biden and Schumer. Johnson has already all but stated that the bill is dead on arrival if it’s sent to the House.
There’s plenty of political poison swirling around here for both parties. If the Democrats refuse to support the new House bill because they wouldn’t be getting everything they want, they would be blamed for failing to support our close ally Israel. If Senate Republicans including Mitch McConnell continue to go along with the toxic border compromise bill, they will be losing the confidence of the conservative base and Trump supporters, potentially leading to some of them facing primary challenges. Both parties are on the ropes with a need to pass some sort of general spending bill in the near future simply to keep the lights on.
The idea of a “clean” spending bill that maintains current spending levels isn’t popular on the right at the moment. But it will very likely end up being the only option available. If neither side can resist the temptation to load it up with poison pills involving additional funding for Ukraine and bogus claims of better border protection, the only other alternative would be another shutdown. That wouldn’t be good news for either party in the middle of what is already shaping up to be a very close, perilous election with the entire future of the country being basically on the line.