Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Democrats in US Senate block Republican bid to aid Israel, Ukraine excluded

US Senate Democrats blocked a Republican push to win quick approval for a bill providing emergency aid to Israel that passed the House of Representatives last week, but that provides no assistance for Ukraine's war against Russia.

Republican Senator Roger Marshall said: “Time is of the essence and it’s imperative that the Senate not delay delivering this crucial aid to Israel another day.”

Democrats objected, stressing the importance of providing aid to Ukraine as well as Israel, in addition to humanitarian aid, border security funding and money to push back against China in the Indo-Pacific that was in a $106 billion funding request President Joe Biden sent to Congress last month.

They also accused House Republicans of playing politics with the crisis in Israel, delaying aid for the Jewish State by tying support to cutting funding for the Internal Revenue Service, a favorite target for Republicans, rather than writing a bipartisan bill.

The House bill would provide $14.3 billion for Israel as it responds to a deadly Oct. 7 attack by Hamas fighters, but also cut the same amount of money from the IRS. The funds would include $4 billion for procurement of Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems to counter short-range rocket threats as well as some transfers of equipment from US stocks.

“Our allies in Ukraine can no more afford a delay than our allies in Israel,” stated Senator Patty Murray, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The House vote was largely along party lines. Democrats called the proposed IRS cuts a politically motivated “poison pill” that would increase the US budget deficit by cutting back on tax collection. They also said it was essential to continue to support Ukraine.

To become law, legislation must pass the Democratic-controlled Senate as well as the Republican-majority House, and be signed into law by Biden, a Democrat. The White House had said Biden would veto the House bill.

Senate leaders are writing their own supplemental funding bill and hope to introduce it as soon as this week.

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