by Nicholas Ballasy
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed to kill the House-passed bill providing $14.3 billion in aid to Israel in response to the Hamas terrorist attack.
“The Senate will not take up the House GOP’s deeply flawed proposal,” Schumer said on the Senate floor just ahead of the final House vote on Thursday. “Instead we will work together on our own bipartisan emergency aid package that includes aid to Israel, Ukraine, competition with the Chinese government, and humanitarian aid for Gaza.”
Schumer described the House bill as an “unserious and woefully inadequate aid package,” adding that President Biden has vowed to veto the legislation.
He noted that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the House’s standalone Israel aid bill would add “over twelve billion to the budget deficit.”
Schumer’s statement was a reference to the GOP’s decision to offset the cost of the bill with cuts to the Internal Revenue Service funding that the Democrats included in their $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act that passed last December.
The IRA included $80 billion in total for the hiring of new IRS agents for enhanced tax collection at the agency.
Prior to criticism of the proposed IRS cuts, Schumer had said that “emergency” funding like the Israel and Ukraine aid should be borrowed rather than offset, which would add to the deficit.
In fiscal year 2023, the deficit was a record $1.7 trillion and the national debt is climbing to $34 trillion.
“Emergency foreign aid should not be offset,” Schumer said during a news conference on Tuesday.
On the House floor Thursday, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., objected to the CBO’s score of the legislation. He argued that eliminating $14.3 billion in IRS spending for new agents would not necessarily cost taxpayers money.
Scalise said Washington is the only place where “eliminating government positions” gets counted as something that’s going to raise the deficit.
“Getting rid of the size of government is ruled by CBO as increasing the deficit,” he said.
Scalise said the CBO’s analysis shows that the only way these new agents can raise enough revenue under the IRA is to collect about $4 billion in taxes from those earning under $400,000 annually.
He also said that Biden’s campaign promise not to raise taxes on families earning under $400,000 is “broken” as a result of the sought-after additional IRS funding for the agency’s operations.
Biden’s $105 billion proposed foreign aid package includes the Israel aid, plus $61 billion for Ukraine, $2 billion in additional assistance for Taiwan and Indo-Pacific security, roughly $9 billion for humanitarian assistance to help “Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and surrounding areas,” and $6.4 billion for U.S. border operations.
Schumer has committed to drafting a similar package for consideration in the Senate instead of taking up the House’s version of the Israel bill.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday called for a serious southern border security component to a “comprehensive” foreign assistance package. He said border security funding would likely bring more Senate Republicans to the table in support funding Israel and Ukraine together in one bill.
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Nicholas Ballasy has been breaking news for more than a decade in the nation’s capital and questioning political leaders about the most pressing issues facing the nation.
Photo “Chuck Schumer” by Chuck Schumer.