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House fails to pass standalone Israel aid bill

The House failed to pass a clean $17.6 billion Israel aid bill on Tuesday as Congress struggles to find some vehicle that could clear critical money for foreign allies.

The measure to aid the U.S. ally in its war against Hamas went down 250-180, and was considered under an expedited procedure requiring two-thirds support. Nearly four dozen Democrats voted yes while more than a dozen Republicans opposed the measure.

The White House had derided it as a “cynical political maneuver,” as Republicans roundly reject a more comprehensive and bipartisan border security-foreign aid deal negotiated in the Senate.

“It’s just a political stunt by the Republicans and the speaker,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), ranking member of the Appropriations Committee. “This political stuff does not include any humanitarian assistance.”

House lawmakers previously cleared an Israel aid bill in November — paired with cuts to the IRS — but the legislation failed to gain Senate traction.

“There’s no time for hesitation,” said Speaker Mike Johnson alongside Amir Ohana, speaker of the Israeli Knesset, on Tuesday. “History beckons us to act boldly and decisively to defend Israel and our own citizens.”

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a former member of Democratic leadership, said he’s implored Johnson to place the bills providing foreign assistance on the floor individually. But he wants the Israel bill to include humanitarian aid for Gaza as well.

“I believe that there are 300 votes for Ukraine. There are 400 votes for Israel,” he said in an interview. “Not putting humanitarian aid in this bill is a despicable continuation of Republican policy, which says to the American people and the rest of the world: You’re on your own.”

Progressives also rejected the idea of supporting legislation without assistance for Palestinians.

“There’s no conditions on any aid and there’s horrific stuff going on,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “There’s no Ukraine aid in here. This is just a way for Speaker Johnson to try to change the discussion.”

What comes next: House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) pitched a bill with a combination of Israel and Ukraine aid along with “countering China.”

“It would probably come back from the Senate, would be my guess,” he said in an interview.

In a statement Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reiterated his position that aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan should move alongside border security changes.

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