House plans vote on standalone Israel aid bill next week, Johnson says

Washington — The House plans to vote next week on a standalone Israel aid bill  Speaker Mike Johnson said in a letter to colleagues on Saturday, in which he describes a new plan to vote on its foreign aid.

This is both a new initiative — and something of a retreat by House Republicans, who late last year approved a plan that provided billions in Israeli aid, but also cut money for the IRS. The earlier plan in November left out funding for Ukraine and other national security priorities.

Johnson then had chosen to pursue a narrower bill that would not attract Democratic support, rather than a larger package that would have been supported by many members across the aisle.

House Democrats urged members to vote against that earlier bill, saying it "breaks from longstanding bipartisan precedent" by including spending cuts in an emergency aid package." Democratic Senators said at the time they would not consider supporting the package. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said then that the bill omitted aid for Ukraine and humanitarian funding to Gaza, in addition to other funding priorities — and would put together their own bipartisan aid bill.

In Saturday's letter, Johnson blames Democrats and the Senate for forcing the House GOP to pivot its earlier strategy. He attacked Senate leaders for failing to include House leaders in their negotiations on the emergency plan, which includes aid to Ukraine, Israel, and which is expected soon.

"Given the Senate's failure to move appropriate legislation in a timely fashion, and the perilous circumstances currently facing Israel, the House will continue to lead," Johnson wrote.

The White House said in a statement Saturday that it has been working with a bipartisan group of senators on a national security agreement that "secures our border and provides support for the people of Ukraine and Israel," and that "we strongly oppose this ploy" by House Republicans.

"The security of Israel should be sacred, not a political game," the statement said, adding that House Republicans should "work in a bipartisan way."

Johnson says the new aid package will not include cuts to other programs. He wants the House to have an Israel aid package ready in short order.

"We will take up and pass a clean, standalone Israel supplemental package," Johnson wrote.

— Kathryn Watson contributed to this report. 

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