on the hill

Proposal to pair Israel, Ukraine funding boosts appears to be a nonstarter in the House

A bevy of resolutions, letters, statements and bills regarding the situation in Israel were introduced on Tuesday, including a call to increase nonprofit security funding at home

Saeed Qaq/Anadolu via Getty Images

Rockets fired from Gaza are neutralized in the air by Israel's 'Iron Dome' air defense system on the fourth day of the clashes in the city of Ashkelon, Israel on October 10, 2023.

Discussions around pairing supplemental aid to Israel with additional funding for Ukraine — a plan reportedly floated by the Biden administration to congressional leaders — is most likely moribund, given that it seems to be unpopular among a broad swath of Republican lawmakers.

Republicans who spoke to Jewish Insider on Tuesday were at best ambivalent about the proposal, while several said that Israel aid needed to be prioritized above other issues. President Joe Biden indicated in his remarks yesterday that he plans to send a formal request for supplemental aid to Israel to Congress in the near future.

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dismissed a question from JI on the proposal as “some type of game.”

“Israel was just attacked. I would put Israel’s supplemental on the floor right now if I was still speaker,” McCarthy said, highlighting efforts by Hamas to overwhelm and exhaust Iron Dome’s interceptors. “We should have that on the floor today, where nobody questions that they will be able to defend themselves.”

Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), who has supported additional Ukraine aid, said that “they are both important but Israel is No. 1 right now with what’s happening.”

Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA), who has been calling for greater oversight and a clearer strategy from the administration on Ukraine, called the proposal “a terrible idea.”

“We have to slow down on Ukraine to ask some good questions,” Garcia said. “Israel, we know we have an imperative right now to support them… they’re running out of ammo. So we need to quickly be there.”

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) told JI he was unsure if a joint proposal would be able to win the approval of House Republicans. 

“Either way — I don’t know which way it’s going to go,” Smith said. “We’ve got to make sure that we robust it, particularly on the Iron Dome… they need to have it in a sustainable fashion so there’s no breaks.” 
Ukraine skeptics have taken an even more deeply skeptical tone; Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said on social media on Monday that “any funding for Ukraine should be redirected to Israel immediately.” The influential Heritage Foundationalso argued against pairing the two projects.

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