House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, is making a bold statement with his first major move in office. He is using the issue of providing aid to Israel, which has bipartisan support, to challenge President Joe Biden’s key achievement.
The House Republicans have introduced a new bill that proposes emergency funding of $14.3 billion for Israel. However, this funding will be rescinded from the Inflation Reduction Act, which is a significant law covering climate, healthcare, and taxes. President Biden had signed this law last year. The proposed bill is currently available for viewing online and can be accessed by clicking on the link provided.
As early as this week, the full chamber is expected to have a vote on the new GOP bill that is set to be considered by the Rules Committee when the House returns on Wednesday.
Should the bill be passed by the Republican-controlled House, it is highly likely that the IRS provisions will be rejected by the Democratic-led Senate and the White House. This scenario sets the stage for a heated debate on how to approve Israel aid, which will serve as an early test for Johnson’s ability to balance the demands of Republican hard-liners with the complexities of a divided government.
In the initial version of the bill, Johnson justified his decision to reduce the funding of the IRS in order to provide new aid to Israel, even if it leads to a rift with the Democrats.
According to Senator Johnson, while increasing the number of IRS agents may be a priority, he believes that if given the choice, the American people would prioritize standing with Israel and protecting innocent lives in the region. In an interview with Fox News, Johnson stated, “I understand their priority is to bulk up the IRS, but I think if you put this to the American people and they weigh the two needs, I think they’re going to say standing with Israel and protecting the innocent over there is in our national interest and is a more immediate need than IRS agents.”
According to the White House, the Republicans are attempting to assist the wealthy and large corporations in evading taxes by presenting a plan that will further increase the deficit.
According to a statement made by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, politicizing the national security interests of the United States is not an acceptable option. She emphasized the importance of supporting Israel and defending Ukraine from Russian aggression without demanding offsets, which could have catastrophic consequences for the safety and alliances of the country in the future. Such demands would be a departure from the standard bipartisan process that is typically followed.
In a statement, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Florida, expressed her strong dismay over Johnson’s decision. She stated that she is deeply disturbed and finds Speaker Johnson’s political maneuvering to be offensive to all Americans who support Israel. She further added that she hopes he will promptly retract his decision.
In 2022, Biden and the Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, aimed at boosting investments in clean energy and healthcare through higher taxes on corporations. The total funds allocated for the IRS amount to around $80 billion, which the administration plans to utilize for improving customer service and cracking down on wealthy tax evaders. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, these funds are expected to generate an estimated $200 billion in revenue over the next ten years.
According to Senator Ron Wyden, who serves as the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Johnson’s proposed plan is “horrifying” and will not be considered in the Senate. Senator Wyden has vowed to oppose the plan and will use all of his resources as the Committee’s chairman to do so. His comment was made on Monday, indicating that he is steadfast in his stance against the proposed plan.
According to Wyden and some other Democrats, the deficit would increase due to the rescissions.
Aaron Fritschner, Rep. Don Beyer’s deputy chief of staff, voiced his concern over Johnson’s proposal, stating that it goes beyond being a mere offset and instead takes advantage of a war to push through a tax cut for the wealthy. In a tweet, Fritschner shared his opinion on the matter.
As the U.S. considers sending aid to Israel, Johnson is facing pressure from Republicans who insist on cutting domestic spending.
During a recent radio appearance, Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas, expressed his opinion on the aid by stating that it must be funded using actual money and not budgetary tricks.
According to the “Hill Country Patriot” of Kerrville, Texas, the speaker stated his intention to take a stand against Israel funding if it were to come to that. He clarified that while he supports Israel, he does not believe in blindly writing blank checks that could bankrupt the country and undermine its ability to defend itself and its allies. He emphasized the importance of finding a balance between supporting allies and maintaining national security.
Sahil Kapur is a seasoned national political reporter working with NBC News.
As an off-air reporter and producer, Rebecca oversees the coverage of the House for NBC News. Her expertise lies in the intricacies of Congress and her reporting is highly regarded in the industry.