Updated Feb 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Top House Democrats swipe at GOP's new Israel aid bill

Hakeem Jeffries at a press briefing room flanked by several Democratic colleagues.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

House Democratic leaders on Sunday knocked House Republicans for pursuing a new standalone Israel aid bill over the Senate's comprehensive national security package.

Why it matters: Many Democrats are carefully trying to balance their motivation to vote for Israel aid with concerns about the bill's exclusion of humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, Ukraine aid and other key priorities.

What he's saying: Asked about the $17.6 billion Israel bill on ABC's "This Week," House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said, "We'll evaluate that legislation over the next few days, and then on Tuesday morning, House Democrats will meet as a caucus."

  • "We've got to support Israel's ability to defend itself against Hamas and to defeat Hamas," Jeffries said.
  • But he also expressed a desire for humanitarian aid to Palestinians and said "we have to support the national security priorities of the American people in other parts of the world," including Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific.
  • "The legislation being put forth by House Republicans does none of that," Jeffries said. "The responsible approach is a comprehensive one."

Zoom in: House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) is not formally whipping against the bill, but in an email to House Democrats on Sunday her office called it a "partisan bill" and said the White House is "strongly opposed" to it.

  • House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) "also opposes the bill because it does not meet our national security interests in Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific, and humanitarian assistance," the email said.

State of play: The House will vote this week on the Israel aid bill, which leaves out the IRS cuts in the House's original Israel bill that incensed Democrats when it was introduced in October.

  • But some Democrats fear that voting for the new House bill will hobble the Senate's more sprawling legislation – which is expected to be released this weekend – right out of the gate.

What we're watching: Several pro-Israel Democrats who voted against the Israel aid bill in the fall due to the IRS cuts have said they plan to vote for the new package – meaning it will likely get more than the dozen Democratic votes it received in November.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from Reps. Katherine Clark and Rosa DeLauro.

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