House GOP unveils $14.3 billion Israel aid bill that would cut funding to IRS

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Washington — House Republicans want to pay for emergency aid to Israel by cutting funding to the IRS, teeing up a collision with the White House and Democratic-controlled Senate over how to support a key U.S. ally.

The House GOP released a $14.3 billion standalone measure on Monday that would pay for aid to Israel by cutting the same amount in funding that was allocated to the IRS under the Inflation Reduction Act, one of President Biden's signature pieces of legislation.

"We're going to have pays-for in [the bill]," House Speaker Mike Johnson told Fox News on Monday. "We're not just going to print money and send it overseas."

The Republican bill sets up a battle over support for Israel, with Mr. Biden and Democrats in the Senate wanting to pair aid for Israel with tens of billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, which some House Republicans oppose. The White House asked Congress for a $105 billion aid package two weeks ago, which included $14 billion for Israel and $61 billion related to Ukraine.

Johnson, who supports separating the aid packages, acknowledged that the cuts to the IRS would be unpopular among Democrats, but said he planned to call Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for a "direct" and "thoughtful conversation."

"I understand their priority is to bulk up the IRS," Johnson told Fox News. "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."

The president signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law in 2022, and it included hundreds of billions of dollars for Democratic priorities related to climate change, health care costs and taxes. It also boosted the IRS' funding by $80 billion, allowing the agency to hire thousands of agents and revamp decades-old technological systems. Experts said the upgrades and hiring boost were long overdue and would improve the agency's ability to process tax returns, but the provision was highly unpopular among Republican lawmakers.

When it comes to aid for Ukraine, Johnson has said he wants more accountability for the billions of dollars the U.S. is spending to help repel Russia's invasion, specifically asking the White House to detail where the money is going and what the end game in the conflict is.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the bill a "nonstarter" and said it would "set an unacceptable precedent that calls our commitment to one of our closest allies into question."

"Demanding offsets for meeting core national security needs of the United States — like supporting Israel and defending Ukraine from atrocities and Russian imperialism — would be a break with the normal, bipartisan process and could have devastating implications for our safety and alliances in the years ahead," she said in a statement Monday.

Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, said Monday that offsetting emergency aid with cuts to the IRS sets a "dangerous precedent."

"House Republicans are setting a dangerous precedent by suggesting that protecting national security or responding to natural disasters is contingent upon cuts to other programs," the Connecticut Democrat said in a statement. "The partisan bill House Republicans introduced stalls our ability to help Israel defend itself and does not include a penny for humanitarian assistance."

GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who serves as vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Monday she would prefer to pair aid to Ukraine and Israel.

When asked whether she was concerned about offsetting emergency spending with budget cuts, she said, "Right, the question is where does it end?"

The House Rules Committee plans to take up the GOP's Israel bill on Wednesday.

Alan He contributed reporting. 

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