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U.S. House fails to pass standalone Israel aid bill

U.S. House fails to pass standalone Israel aid bill Photo: the lower house of the U.S. Congress did not support Speaker Johnson's bill on aid to Israel without Ukraine (Getty Images)

On Tuesday, February 6, the United States House of Representatives failed to pass Speaker Mike Johnson's bill providing military assistance exclusively to Israel. The majority of Congress members deemed the document a "political stunt" unrelated to this country's right to self-defense, informs The Washington Post.

Separate legislation proposed by Speaker of the House Mike Johnson allocates funds exclusively for the support of Israel and U.S. forces in the Middle East—priorities that, in his opinion, should be "separated" from other national security issues.

The bill was brought to a vote by Republican Congressman Ken Calvert. The majority of Democrats, even staunch supporters of Israel, condemned it and called it a "political stunt" with "little to do with Israel’s right to self-defense."

Calvert stated that his proposal is a "clean bill," devoid of less popular provisions related to national security.

"Assertions that this bill plays politics are patently false,” he said on the House floor shortly before the vote. “We have an opportunity today to come together and send a strong message: the United States stands with Israel,” he said. “The only people making it political are those who oppose it.”

Speaker Johnson acknowledged that after lawmakers "take care" of Israel, they will "deal with" other issues. "We have to deal with these measures independently and separately. I think they merit that," he told reporters.

However, on the eve of the vote, dozens of lawmakers, including leaders of the Democratic Party and members of the ultra-conservative faction in the House of Representatives, announced their intention to reject the bill.

Shortly before the vote, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic leaders Katherine Clark, and Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar stated in a "Dear Colleague" memorandum that they were ready to support any serious bipartisan efforts due to the special relationship between the United States and Israel.

However, they noted that the separate bill is "is not being offered in good faith."

"Rather, it is a nakedly obvious and cynical attempt by MAGA extremists to undermine the possibility of a comprehensive, bipartisan funding package that addresses America’s national security challenges in the Middle East, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific region and throughout the world," the memorandum said.

Problems with U.S. financial aid for Ukraine

On October 20, U.S. President Joe Biden submitted a $106 billion bill to Congress, providing assistance to Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Of this amount, $61.3 billion was proposed for Ukraine, and $14.3 billion for Israel.

However, on November 2, the House of Representatives approved an alternative bill from newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson, providing $17.6 billion in military aid exclusively to Israel, excluding Ukraine.

In December, the Senate blocked the consideration of this bill due to the Republicans' demand to include a tougher set of measures to protect the southern border of the U.S. with Mexico.

Afterward, Democrats and Republicans began negotiations on a new agreement for the border. Biden expressed readiness to close the southern border in case of a migrant crisis and urged legislators to pass the corresponding bill.

At the end of January, the Senate and Congress agreed on the text of the agreement regarding the U.S.-Mexico border. However, Johnson called the agreement "stillborn," implying that the Republican majority in the lower house of Congress does not plan to vote for this document.