Mar 18, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: House GOP feels out Democrats on new Israel aid vote

House Speaker Mike Johnson, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and blue and green striped tie.

House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

House Republicans are quietly sounding out Democrats on another vote on a standalone Israel aid package, sources in both parties told Axios.

Why it matters: House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) floated a new Israel aid vote last week in response to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) call for new elections in Israel.

  • Democrats have resisted efforts to pass Israel aid on its own without money for Taiwan, Palestinian civilians and, most importantly, Ukraine.

What we're hearing: One idea that has been floated to attract Democratic votes for an Israel aid package is tying it to humanitarian aid to Gaza, according to a senior Republican and two senior Democratic sources.

  • The bill would be voted on under suspension — a process that bypasses the party-line procedural hurdles Republicans have struggled to get past but requires bills to pass with a two-thirds majority.
  • Any supplemental deal would be conditioned on an agreement to restrict money for UNRWA — the Palestinian refugee organization rocked by allegations of employees' involvement in the Oct. 7 attack — in an appropriations bill funding the State Department.

Yes, but: Democratic leadership is disinclined to agree to such a deal and would likely hold out for a bill that includes aid to Ukraine, all three sources said.

  • "They want all or nothing," the Republican source told Axios.
  • One Democratic source said Republicans are "simply attempting to play politics with Schumer's remarks" last week and "think there is fragility in the [Democrat]/Israel relationship that they can expose."
  • Democrats are trying to force a vote on a $95 billion Senate bill with funds for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and Palestinian civilians.

The backdrop: Republicans tried and failed to pass a standalone Israel aid bill under that process last month, with 46 Democrats voting for it and 14 Republicans against it — putting it well short of the necessary 290 votes.

The bottom line: "I'm just hopeful we can get the entire Senate supplemental," centrist Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-N.C.) told Axios.

  • "We should be able to vote on Ukraine and Taiwan as well."
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