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 atwo 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 presidentthe 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.
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.”
The House Rules Committee plans to take up the GOP’s Israel bill on Wednesday.