US House Republicans unveil bill to fund Israel by cutting IRS budget

A view of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington.

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Republicans on Monday introduced a plan to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel by cutting funding for the Internal Revenue Service, setting up a showdown with Democrats who control the Senate.

In one of the first major policy actions under new House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Republicans unveiled a standalone supplemental spending bill only for Israel, despite Democratic President Joe Biden's request for a $106 billion package that would include aid for Israel, Ukraine and border security.

Johnson, who voted against aid for Ukraine before he was elected House speaker last week, had said he wanted aid to Israel and Ukraine to be handled separately. He has said he wants more accountability for money that has been sent to the Kyiv government as it fights Russian invaders.

"Israel is a separate matter," Johnson said in an interview on Fox News last week, describing his desire to "bifurcate" the Ukraine and Israel funding issues.

Johnson has said bolstering support for Israel should top the U.S. national security agenda in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants that killed more than 1,400 people and saw more than 200 others taken hostage.

Democrats accused Republicans of stalling Congress' ability to help Israel by introducing a partisan bill.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement accusing Republicans of "politicizing national security" and calling their bill a non-starter. To become law, the measure would need to pass the House and the Senate and be signed by President Biden.

"House Republicans are setting a dangerous precedent by suggesting that protecting national security or responding to natural disasters is contingent upon cuts to other programs," Representative Rosa DeLauro, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

The House Rules Committee is expected to consider the Republican Israel bill on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Tom Hogue)