By Michael D. Shear
President Joe Biden earlier this week vowed to veto a House Republican bill that would provide $17.6 billion in aid to Israel, calling it a “cynical political maneuver” intended to hurt the chances of passage for broader legislation that would provide money for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and the U.S. border.
House Republicans fiercely oppose the larger bill, which was unveiled by a small, bipartisan group of senators over the weekend. It calls for $118.3 billion in spending and would overhaul some of the nation’s immigration laws to deal with recent surges of migrants at the southern border.
Speaker Mike Johnson on Saturday said Republicans would instead offer the Israel-only funding bill instead.
In its official response Monday, the Biden administration said the president would veto the House bill if it came to his desk.
“The administration strongly opposes this ploy, which does nothing to secure the border, does nothing to help the people of Ukraine defend themselves against Putin’s aggression, fails to support the security of American synagogues, mosques and vulnerable places of worship, and denies humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians, the majority of whom are women and children,” the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.
Johnson called Biden’s veto threat an “act of betrayal” toward Israel.
“Israel is at war, fighting for its very right to exist, while our brave men and women in uniform are in harm’s way on his orders to deter Iran,” Johnson said. “In threatening to veto aid to Israel and to our military forces, President Biden is abandoning our ally in its time of greatest need. I urge friends of Israel and opponents of Iran to call the president’s bluff and pass this clean aid package.”
If neither bill passes, Biden will be forced to find a new approach to supporting Israel’s war against Hamas, the armed group in the Gaza Strip that launched a terrorist attack inside Israel on Oct. 7 that killed about 1,200 people.
Israel has traditionally been one of the largest recipients of foreign aid from the United States, and support for that aid has generally been supported by majorities in both parties.