March 1, 2024

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Biden vows to veto House’s $14.5B aid to Israel, warns it threatens U.S. safety and alliances

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The House approved a nearly $14.5 billion military aid package Thursday for Israel, a muscular U.S. response to the war with Hamas but also a partisan approach by new Speaker Mike Johnson that poses a direct challenge to Democrats and President Joe Biden.

In a departure from norms, Johnson’s package required that the emergency aid be offset with cuts in government spending elsewhere. That tack established the new House GOP’s conservative leadership, but it also turned what would typically be a bipartisan vote into one dividing Democrats and Republicans. Biden has said he would veto the bill, which was approved 226-196, with 12 Democrats joining most Republicans on a largely party-line vote.

Johnson, R-La., said the Republican package would provide Israel with the assistance needed to defend itself, free hostages held by Hamas and eradicate the militant Palestinian group, accomplishing “all of this while we also work to ensure responsible spending and reduce the size of the federal government.”

Democrats said that approach would only delay help for Israel. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has warned that the “stunningly unserious” bill has no chances in the Senate.

The first substantial legislative effort in Congress to support Israel in the war falls far short of Biden’s request for nearly $106 billion that would also back Ukraine as it fights Russia, along with U.S. efforts to counter China and address security at the border with Mexico.

It is also Johnson’s first big test as House speaker as the Republican majority tries to get back to work after the month of turmoil since ousting Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as speaker. Johnson has said he will turn next to aid for Ukraine along with U.S. border security, preferring to address Biden’s requests separately as GOP lawmakers increasingly oppose aiding Kyiv.

The White House’s veto warning said Johnson’s approach “fails to meet the urgency of the…

Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press

2023-11-03 10:16:05

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