(CTN News) – The Republicans in the House want to slash IRS funding to pay for emergency help to Israel, setting up a showdown with the White House and the Democratically controlled Senate on how best to defend a crucial U.S. ally.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was one of President Biden’s signature pieces of legislation, and the House GOP unveiled a stand-alone plan on Monday that would decrease IRA funding by $14.3 billion to pay for aid to Israel.
House Speaker Mike Johnson said on Monday that “we’re going to have pays-for in” the legislation. “We’re not just going to print money and send it overseas.”
Mr. Biden and Senate Democrats want to couple help for Israel with tens of billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, which some House Republicans oppose, setting up a struggle over backing for Israel in the Republican package.
Two weeks ago, the White House requested $105 billion in aid from Congress, of which $14 billion would go to Israel and $61 billion would go to Ukraine.
Johnson, who backs splitting the aid packages, admitted that the IRS cuts would be unpopular among Democrats but said he planned to phone Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for a “direct” and “thoughtful conversation.”
Strengthening the IRS is a top goal, as Johnson explained to Fox News. “But I think if you put this to the American people and they weigh the two needs, I think they’re going to say standing with Israel and protecting the innocent over there is in our national interest and is a more immediate need than IRS agents.”
In 2022, the president signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which allocated hundreds of billions of dollars to Democratic goals like addressing climate change, lowering the cost of healthcare, and lowering tax rates.
It also increased IRS funding by $80 billion, allowing the agency to hire thousands of new agents and update antiquated computer systems that had been in use for decades.
Although Republican lawmakers widely disliked the provision, experts agreed that the renovations and personnel rise were necessary and would improve the agency’s ability to process tax returns.
Johnson has called for greater transparency over the billions of dollars the United States is spending to help Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion. He has asked the White House to explain the conflict’s ultimate goal and where the funds are being allocated.
In a press briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre referred to the bill as a “nonstarter” and said it would “set an unacceptable precedent that calls our commitment to one of our closest allies into question.”
“Demanding offsets for meeting core national security needs of the United States — like supporting Israel and defending Ukraine from atrocities and Russian imperialism — would be a break with the normal, bipartisan process and could have devastating implications for our safety and alliances in the years ahead,” she stated in a Monday statement.
On Monday, Connecticut Democrat and House Appropriations Committee ranking member Rosa DeLauro warned that offsetting emergency help with cuts to the IRS sets a “dangerous precedent.”
“House Republicans are setting a dangerous precedent by suggesting that protecting national security or responding to natural disasters is contingent upon cuts to other programmes,” the Democrat from Connecticut said in a statement. “The partisan bill House Republicans introduced stalls our ability to help Israel defend itself and does not include a penny for humanitarian assistance.”
Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins, also the vice head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, expressed her preference for pairing funding to Ukraine and Israel on Monday.
She said, “Right, the question is where does it end?” when asked if she was worried about offsetting emergency spending with budget cuts.
On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee will discuss the Republican party’s Israel bill.