Lazy eyes listen
Mike Johnson, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, indicated on Saturday that he will hold a vote on a “clean, standalone” aid package for Israel that does not include any spending cuts.
The newly proposed measure calls for $17.6 billion in increased military budget, as well as “important funding for US forces in the region.” Democrats characterised the initial $14.3 billion measure, which was rejected by the Senate last year, as a “poison pill” because it featured an identical amount in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funding cutbacks.
“Next week, we will take up and pass a clean, standalone Israel supplemental package,” he stated in a letter to colleagues on Saturday afternoon. “The Senate shall no longer have excuses, however misguided, against swift passage of this critical support for our ally.”
The announcement comes as the Senate prepares to vote on a long-anticipated national security supplemental requested by US President Joe Biden, which will include tougher US border controls paired with nearly $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, as well as more assistance to Israel and Taiwan. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday that he was preparing to release the legislation text “no later than Sunday” with the first procedural vote coming by midweek.
However, Johnson has previously criticised the anticipated accord, calling it “dead of arrival” in the lower house if the contents are as rumoured. The Republican majority in the Senate “is aware that by failing to include the House in their negotiations, they have eliminated the ability for swift consideration of any legislation,” Johnson stated in an email.
The White House had stated that it would reject a stand-alone Israel aid bill, with John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, predicting that President Biden would veto it.
While Washington is failing to win further military funds for Ukraine, Brussels approved a €50 billion ($54 billion) aid package on Thursday, apparently pressuring Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to overturn his veto. Orban, who earlier described Ukraine as “one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” accused the “imperialist EU” of “blackmailing” him into accepting the deal.