House passes Israel aid bill despite Biden veto threat

: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) (R) speaks as House Majority Whip Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) (L) listens during a news briefing at the U.S. Capitol on November 2, 2023 in Washington, DC. House Republican held a Conference meeting to discuss party agenda.
New US house speaker Mike Johnson said he intends to propose a separate Ukraine aid bill

The US House of Representatives has passed a $14.3bn (£11.7bn) aid bill to Israel, though Democrats have warned it is dead on arrival in the Senate.

The Republican measure was approved by 226-196 with the help of 12 Democrats. Two Republicans voted no.

Democratic leaders want a bill that includes funding for Ukraine, but House Republicans opposed bundling Ukraine and Israel aid into the one measure.

Senate leader Chuck Schumer slammed the House bill as "stunningly unserious".

Mr Schumer said the upper chamber of Congress, which his fellow Democrats narrowly control, will not pass it.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has vowed to veto the bill should it ever land on his desk.

It was the first major legislative action under the new Republican House Speaker, Mike Johnston.

To offset the cost of the aid to Israel, Republicans proposed cutting $14.3bn in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which collects US taxes.

However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said such cuts to IRS funding would result in less tax revenue, and increase the US deficit by nearly $12.5bn over the next decade.

"My Republican friends say they want to help Israel," said Democratic congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.

"And so, what do they do? They condition the aid to Israel on essentially a tax break for millionaires and billionaires and corporations that cheat on their taxes."

Senate Democrats plan instead to work on a bipartisan package that includes aid for both Israel and Ukraine along with humanitarian aid for Gaza.

Support for continued assistance to Ukraine is steadfast among Democrats and many Senate Republicans, who say it is essential as the country fights Russia.

Mr Johnson, the House Speaker, said he intends to propose a separate package for Ukraine that will be combined with funding for security at the US-Mexico border.

"Ukraine will come in short order. It will come next," he told reporters on Thursday.

Mr Johnson said House Republicans were "trying to get back to the principle of fiscal responsibility".

The two Republicans to vote against the bill were ultraconservatives Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

"We can't afford more foreign aid," Mr Massie posted on X. "I voted against the billions for Ukraine, and I am voting against $14+ billion of foreign aid for Israel tonight."

The US has approved $113bn in military, humanitarian and economic aid for Ukraine since its war with Russia began.