US House passes $14.5bn military aid package for Israel

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Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has urged the White House and Senate Democrats to pass a $14bn military aid package for Israel [File: J Scott Applewhite/AP]

Republican bill faces slim prospects of becoming law due to President Joe Biden’s opposition to attached spending cuts.

The United States House of Representatives has passed a Republican plan providing $14.5bn in military aid for Israel, setting up a partisan clash over the usually bipartisan issue of backing the staunch US ally.

The plan, which is funded by cuts to the Internal Revenue Service, passed on Thursday by 226 votes to 196, largely along party lines.

The plan is the first major legislative action under new Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, who took on his role last week after Kevin McCarthy was removed by the hard-right faction of his party.

The package includes $4bn to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defence systems and military equipment transferred from US stocks.

Johnson on Thursday urged the Senate and White House to quickly approve the bill.

“The Senate and White House cannot let this moment pass, and I urge them to act swiftly and pass this bill as the House did today,” Johnson said on the social media platform X.

The bill, however, has a slim prospect of becoming law after US President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats in the Senate signalled their opposition due to its inclusion of spending cuts and a lack of aid for Ukraine.

To become law, the bill would have to pass the Senate, where the Democrats have a majority, and receive Biden’s signature.

Ahead of the vote, the White House said the bill “would have devastating implications for our safety and alliances in the years ahead”.

Biden has instead asked Congress to pass a $106bn emergency spending package that includes funding for Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine.

While most Republicans still strongly back Ukraine, a vocal minority of the party has questioned the need to continue providing financial assistance to Kyiv at a time of steep budget deficits.

House Democrat Rosa DeLauro on Thursday accused Republicans of delaying aid to US allies with their bill.

“This bill abandons Ukraine. We will not abandon Israel and we will not abandon Ukraine. But their fortunes are linked,” she said.

The US has given Israel more military assistance than any other country since World War II, providing aid worth more than $124bn.

The US ally is already receiving $3.8bn per year in military assistance under a 10-year plan that began in 2016.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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