Updated Feb 15, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Congress faces two roads to nowhere on foreign aid

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Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

House members are staring down a pair of likely non-viable paths for getting aid to Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific signed into law.

Why it matters: This raises the possibility that Congress won't pass any foreign aid package this year.

  • "Ukraine is down to three shells a day for artillery," Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told Axios. "It's hard to win a war when you're doing that."

Driving the news: Bacon and a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Problem Solvers Caucus is set to unveil a smaller version of the Senate's $95 billion foreign aid bill.

  • The roughly $65 billion package would include military aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, but no humanitarian assistance to Ukraine or Gaza.
  • It may be a non-starter for even the most centrist, pro-Israel Democrats. "I don't know [if] that ... is a serious proposal," said Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.). "No aid to Palestinians? That's dead in the Senate. It's a dead bill."
  • The bill would include a version of the Trump-era "Remain in Mexico" policy, but it's not clear whether that's enough for House Republicans to put it on the floor – much less vote for it.

What we're hearing: The bill has eight co-sponsors, four Republicans and four Democrats, according to a member familiar with the matter.

  • In addition to Bacon, the backers are Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), Lori Chavez DeRemer (R-Ore.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Jared Golden (D-Maine), Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez (D-Wash.).

Zoom in: Meanwhile, House Democrats are eyeing an effort to force the Senate bill to the floor through what is known as a discharge petition.

  • But that maneuver is likely to fall short again, with not just moderate Republicans but progressive Democrats signaling they would not contribute the necessary 218 signatures.
  • "You really need to be doing the math for both chambers while you're negotiating a package like this, and there just weren't the right people in the room that understood what was actually passable," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told Axios.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details on the bill's co-sponsors.

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