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President Mike Johnson uses Israeli aid to fight Biden over IRS

WASHINGTON — In his first major move, Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., is using the bipartisan goal of providing aid to Israel to spar with President Joe Biden over his signature achievement.

A new bill released Monday by House Republicans includes $14.3 billion in emergency funding for Israel, paid for by canceling the same amount of IRS funding from the Inflation Reduction Act , a major climate, health care and tax law signed by Biden last year.

The new GOP bill is expected to be considered by the Rules Committee when the House returns Wednesday, with a vote in the full chamber expected as early as this week.

If the bill passes the Republican-controlled House, the IRS provisions will almost certainly be rejected by the Democratic-led Senate and White House, sparking a conflict over how to approve Israeli aid. It represents an early test for Johnson on how to reconcile the demands of Republican hardliners and the realities of divided government.

Johnson defended his decision to significantly cut IRS funding in “the first version of this bill” aimed at providing new aid to Israel, even though it alienated Democrats.

“I understand that their priority is to strengthen the IRS, but I think if you put that to the American people and they weigh the two needs, I think they’re going to say it’s our duty to stand alongside Israel and to protect the innocent there. national interest and is a more immediate need than IRS agents,” Johnson told Fox News.

Democrats quickly lambasted the move, accusing Johnson of politicizing the cause of protecting Israel.

“Support for Israel’s defense should not come with strings attached, whether it’s a 30 percent cut in foreign military funding or compensating aid in times of critical need. I am deeply troubled that President Johnson is playing political games with Israeli emergency funding, something our country has never done in times of crisis,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida. , in a press release. “President Johnson’s political games are offensive to all pro-Israel Americans, and I hope he changes course immediately. »

Biden and Democrats approved the Inflation Reduction Act in a party-line vote in 2022, aiming to boost investments in clean energy and health care, financed by higher taxes on companies. IRS funds total about $80 billion, which the administration has said it will use to improve customer service and pursue wealthy tax evaders. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has projected that these funds will “increase revenues by approximately $200 billion” over a decade.

“This is not compensation, this is exploiting a war to pass a tax cut for the rich,” Aaron Fritschner, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., said the.

The White House and Treasury Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

Johnson is also dealing with Republicans who are demanding that domestic spending be cut if the United States sends aid to Israel.

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said in a radio appearance Monday that the aid “should be paid for, and it should be paid for with real money, not budget gimmicks.”

“So I’m going to stand up on this wall and if you see yourself having to vote against defunding Israel, just make sure you hear it here first,” he told the Hill Country Patriot. Kerrville, Texas. “I support Israel, but I will not continue down this path that leads to bankrupting our country and undermining our very ability to defend ourselves, much less that of our allies, by continuing to write blank checks. »

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