President Joe Biden’s clash with Speaker Mike Johnson over funding for Israel and Ukraine has sparked a heated debate. While Biden initially proposed a $106 billion supplemental funding request that would have allocated money to both Israel and Ukraine, Johnson has rejected this in favor of a bill that focuses solely on funding for Israel. Johnson argues that the immediate attention should be on addressing the situation in Israel and that there will likely be bipartisan support for his bill.
Ukraine aid could be Biden's first big battle with @SpeakerJohnson
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) November 1, 2023
At the heart of the divide are concerns from some conservatives in the House who question the allocation of funding for Ukraine without a clear end goal for the war. They argue that this amounts to a “blank check” policy. On the other hand, Johnson is pushing for $14.3 billion in funding for Israel by cutting an equal amount from the IRS, which would have been allocated to the agency under the Inflation Reduction Act.
The White House is strongly opposing Johnson’s proposal, stating that it would increase the deficit and burden middle-class families. They highlight that the funding for Israel is in response to a terrorist attack and that emergency national security funding should not be offset. Given Biden’s opposition to the bill, it is expected that most, if not all, Democrats in Congress will vote against it. However, even if it passes in the House, it will face challenges in the Senate, where there are several Ukraine hawks among the GOP ranks.
This clash between Biden and Johnson may foreshadow future conflicts between the two leaders. Biden has shown support for Israel, but Johnson is banking on public pressure favoring Israel over the IRS. The initial funding request from Biden included allocations for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and border security, with border security being a contentious issue among Republicans. While the debate continues, it is likely that aid will eventually be provided to both Israel and Ukraine.
As the clash intensifies, Biden’s proposal also faces opposition regarding humanitarian aid in Gaza, with Republicans arguing that the money would ultimately benefit Hamas. Meanwhile, the Biden administration faces pressure from the Democratic Party’s left wing to support civilians in Gaza. While it remains to be seen how these sticking points will be resolved, the Biden White House is likely to stand firm on maintaining the aid. Ultimately, both Ukraine and Israel are expected to receive their funding, but the political game surrounding the issue must be played out first.