In response to the recent Hamas terrorist attack, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has unveiled a comprehensive aid package as an alternative to the House-passed bill providing $14.3 billion in aid to Israel. Schumer made his announcement on the Senate floor just ahead of the final House vote on Thursday.
Schumer emphatically stated, “The Senate will not take up the House GOP’s deeply flawed proposal.” Instead, he revealed a bipartisan emergency aid package that encompasses assistance to Israel, Ukraine, competition with the Chinese government, and humanitarian aid for Gaza.
The House-passed bill, as described by Schumer, was labeled as “unserious and woefully inadequate aid package.” He also pointed out that President Biden had vowed to veto the legislation. Schumer referenced a nonpartisan report from the Congressional Budget Office, indicating that the House’s standalone Israel aid bill would contribute over $12 billion to the budget deficit.
This reference by Schumer pertains to the GOP’s strategy of offsetting the bill’s cost by cutting funding to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which was initially included in the Democrats’ $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act passed the previous December. The Inflation Reduction Act allocated a total of $80 billion for hiring new IRS agents to enhance tax collection.
Before the criticism regarding the proposed IRS cuts, Schumer had expressed his belief that “emergency” foreign aid, such as that for Israel and Ukraine, should be borrowed rather than offset, potentially increasing the deficit.
In fiscal year 2023, the deficit reached a record $1.7 trillion, and the national debt climbed to $34 trillion. Schumer reiterated his stance during a news conference, stating that “emergency foreign aid should not be offset.”
On the House floor, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, challenged the CBO’s assessment of the legislation. He argued that eliminating $14.3 billion in IRS spending for new agents might not necessarily burden taxpayers.
Scalise contended that in Washington, the elimination of government positions is seen as increasing the deficit. He further pointed out that the CBO’s analysis indicated that the only way these new agents could generate enough revenue under the Inflation Reduction Act was by collecting approximately $4 billion in taxes from those earning less than $400,000 annually.
He also noted that Biden’s campaign promise not to raise taxes on families earning under $400,000 appeared to be compromised due to the additional sought-after IRS funding for the agency’s operations.
Biden’s proposed $105 billion foreign aid package includes aid to Israel, $61 billion for Ukraine, an additional $2 billion for Taiwan and Indo-Pacific security, roughly $9 billion for humanitarian assistance to 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 called for a substantial southern border security component in a “comprehensive” foreign assistance package on Tuesday. He suggested that including border security funding could garner more support from Senate Republicans for funding Israel and Ukraine together in one bill.