The measure made for a difficult vote for many pro-Israel Democrats, who were eager to support the Jewish state at a time of crisis but reluctant to embrace a bill that omits help for Ukraine and humanitarian aid and takes aim at their domestic policy priorities. Leading Democrats including Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, made the case privately on Thursday for Democrats to oppose the bill.
Representative Jared Moskowitz of Florida sold on social media this week that the legislation was intended to be used against Democrats “as a future political mailer. ‘You chose the IRS over Israel.’” He said he would not take that bait and would support it, but that the bill would be dead in the Senate.
“I will support Israel,” he wrote.
Several pro-Israel Democrats said they objected to the legislation because it represented the first time the Congress tried to put conditions on emergency aid.
Representative Brad Schneider of Illinois said that “in my worst nightmares, I never thought I would be asked to vote for a bill cynically conditioning aid to Israel on ceding to the partisan demands of one party.”
“I also never thought that a day would come that I would be asked to consider voting against an aid package for Israel, our most important ally in the Middle East, and maybe in the world,” Mr. Schneider said.
He continued: “But I cannot support the terribly flawed, weak and dangerous bill Speaker Johnson and the Republicans have on the floor today.”
The bulk of the money in the GOP measure is meant to help Israel replenish and bulk up its weapons systems, including $4 billion to replenish the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems. It also includes $200 million for the protection of US personnel and evacuation of US citizens. It leaves out humanitarian aid for Gaza, which Mr. Biden has requested and many Democrats consider as crucial.
“It provides Israel with the aid it needs to defend itself, free its hostages and eradicate Hamas, which is a mission that must be accomplished,” Mr. Johnson said at a news conference. “All of this while we also work to ensure responsible spending and reduce the size of the federal government to pay for that commitment to our friend and ally.”
Mr. Johnson said he did not attach the spending cuts “for political purposes,” but because House Republicans were “trying to get back to the principle of fiscal responsibility.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Wednesday that the spending cuts laid out in the bill that would actually increase the deficit by $12.5 billion over the next decade because the measure would reduce revenue collections.
Mr. Johnson appears to have structured the Israel legislation in an effort to keep his conference, which is deeply divided over funding foreign wars, united in the early days of his speakership. His predecessor, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, was after he passed two bills — one to avert the nation’s first default on its debt and the other to avert a shutdown — that did not have a majority backing from his House Republicans.