Earlier today, Speaker Mike Johnson issued a Dear Colleague stating his intention to bring a standalone $17.6 billion Israel aid bill without offsets to the floor next week. Below is an overview of where Congress stands vis-à-vis foreign aid.
- Should the House proceed as Johnson has indicated, we would expect the Israel aid package to garner close to 400 votes, representing one of the most bipartisan substantive measures the chamber could clear in the current hyper-partisan environment.
- The decision to consider a standalone Israel funding bill marks a reversal from one of Johnson’s early acts as Speaker last November when he chose to package it with offsetting IRS cuts and pass it on a largely party-line vote.
- The Speaker’s move today can be viewed as an attempt to preempt the Senate’s ongoing negotiations packaging all foreign aid supplemental spending and linking it to a bipartisan border security and immigration reform bill, the text of which is rumored to be released tomorrow.
- Given that the Speaker has declared the Senate’s forthcoming foreign aid + immigration deal as DOA in the House, it is possible that the Senate could amend the House-passed standalone Israel bill. The most likely option would be to attach Ukraine aid and send the combined foreign aid package back to the House as a take-it-or-leave-it legislative gesture. Such a bill would pass overwhelmingly in the Senate and likely enjoy a strong bipartisan majority in the House were it allowed to receive a vote.
- Most House Republicans, however, do not want Israel and Ukraine aid linked. Instead, they would prefer to vote “yes” on Israel aid and “no” on Ukraine aid (or not consider the latter at all). Conversely, President Biden has explicitly linked funding for Israel with funding for Ukraine, with the White House stating the President would veto an Israel-only bill.
OUTLOOK/ANALYSIS. While a growing majority of House Republicans oppose additional funding for Ukraine, aid for Israel enjoys nearly unanimous support in the House, making it the single largest vote-getter of all options currently on the table. As such, a combined Israel + Ukraine aid package would pose a dilemma for the Speaker.
The emerging border deal that links all items together is much easier to declare DOA, as Speaker Johnson has done repeatedly. The right has consistently vilified the yet-to-be revealed Senate immigration package as “amnesty.” Additionally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has stated that she will file a motion to vacate (MTV) the chair if the Speaker schedules a vote on the Senate deal.
Thus, there are only two viable vehicles in our estimation for supporters of additional foreign aid: an Israel + Ukraine combo bill as described above, or the inclusion of aid in the final FY24 appropriation bills that are likely to move in early March. Both options leave the Speaker with a difficult decision. We will continue to keep you updated.