Jonathan Lord

The US House GOP Israel Bill Is Not Serious

The House majority-passed Israel bill is fundamentally unserious. It makes a partisan mockery of support for Israel and fiscal responsibility.

On November 2, Speaker Johnson’s supplemental bill to support Israel passed the House largely along party lines. The $14.3 billion Israel aid bill is neither a good-faith effort to support Israel in its moment of crisis, nor is it fiscally responsible, as he suggested in a press conference yesterday.

It’s a supplemental budget bill, yet contains a base budget offset, rescinding $14.3 billion in unexecuted funding from the IRS. Last Thursday, Speaker Johnson argued the bill is fiscally responsible because the outlay of money is “paid for” by the IRS cut. However, it’s a specious argument. Cutting IRS funding actually increases the deficit, because it hollows out the federal government’s ability to collect owed tax revenue.

Don’t just take my word for it. The Congressional Budget Office scored the bill as adding almost $27b to the national debt over the next 10 years. The budget cut worsens the national debt. A clean supplemental bill would actually cost the American taxpayer less.

By tying support for Israel’s defense to a completely unrelated, and ultimately self-defeating budget cut, the House majority demonstrates it is unserious about supporting America’s closest partner in the Middle East. Furthermore, it is a craven attempt to turn a broadly bipartisan issue (support for Israel) into a partisan one, by attaching a poison-pill cut, which masquerades as fiscal responsibility, but manages to only further increase the national debt. Those who would otherwise overlook the budget theater in this bill, to focus on the support included for Israel, would be wise to understand that supporting this bill will set a precedent that enables the House Freedom Caucus to insert partisan legislative language in any future bill providing support for Israel. To paraphrase Virgil: “Beware the extreme right-wing Republicans, even when they come bearing “gifts”.

If Speaker Johnson put President Biden’s $105b supplemental request, which includes support for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and the US southern border, on the floor for a vote, it would pass with a broad bipartisan majority. Most of the money in that bill is spent on replenishing US military stocks, a critical national security imperative that stimulates the US economy, expands the defense industrial base, and increases defense spending.

Earlier this year, national security-minded, Representative Mike Johnson criticized the Biden administration for not spending enough on defense. This week, House Speaker Mike Johnson rejected the President’s supplemental budget request increasing defense spending. At this moment of great consequence, with threats mounting in the three operational theaters of Europe, the Indo-Pacific, and the Middle East, this is the time for a bipartisan effort to advance US national security. Speaker Johnson would do well to remember the principles of Representative Johnson, and demonstrate responsible leadership by taking up and passing the President’s supplemental request without further delay.

About the Author
Jonathan Lord is a senior fellow and the director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, a former staff member for the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, a former Iraq country director in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and a former political military analyst in the Department of Defense.
Related Topics
Related Posts