Senate Republicans are split over how to handle the Israel aid package in Congress, demonstrating the internal divisions within the party. A bipartisan group supported by both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is working on a larger national security package that includes aid for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and a border security measure. McConnell expressed that he agrees with Schumer and President Joe Biden on the “concept” of the package but emphasized the need for a substantial border security measure to gain the support of Senate Republicans. He wants policy changes for border protection, not just increased funding.
Senate Republicans chart diverging paths forward on Israel aid
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) November 1, 2023
House Republicans, on the other hand, have rallied around a proposal by House Speaker Mike Johnson to pass Israel aid separately using funds from Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. They aim to divert money from funds allocated for hiring 87,000 new IRS agents. While this approach may appeal to some Senate Republicans, it is likely to face opposition from Democrats.
The main dispute among Senate Republicans is whether Israel aid should be separated from the larger package to accommodate members who support Israel aid but oppose Ukraine funding. The majority of Senate Republicans support Israel aid, but there is a vocal faction within the party that strongly opposes assistance to Ukraine. Some senators, such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, want the Israel bill to be passed separately to prevent disputes over Ukraine support from delaying Israel assistance.
There are also senators like Mitt Romney and Todd Young who support aid for both Israel and Ukraine and advocate for combining the packages. Romney emphasized the need for Democratic votes to pass any legislation, while Young stressed the importance of supporting the freedom fighters in Ukraine and providing defense support to Israel.
The issue of the Israel aid package will be discussed during a Senate Republican luncheon with Speaker Johnson, where they will also address the ongoing appropriations process to avoid a government shutdown. This meeting will be Johnson’s first with the Republican Conference since becoming speaker. The divisions within the Republican Party highlight the challenges they face in formulating a unified approach on key issues.