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AID ARGUMENTS

House Democrats signal openness to workarounds on supplemental

Some Democrats may be looking at the possibility of using a discharge petition, a bipartisan workaround, to move Israel and Ukraine aid forward

Francis Chung/POLITICO via AP Images

Representative-elect Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) gives an interview in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill Nov. 29, 2022.

As House Republican leadership continues to publicly dig in against the Senate’s still-unreleased bipartisan border deal, some House Democrats are signaling they may be open to workarounds.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) introduced a bill on Tuesday including aid to Israel and Ukraine along the lines of President Joe Biden’s original supplemental funding request.

“Congressman Moskowitz is a former emergency management director, he understands having contingency plans,” a Moskowitz spokesperson told JI.

Moskowitz’s bill could be the first step toward pursuing a discharge petition, a legislative mechanism that would sidestep GOP leadership’s opposition and force a floor vote, assuming the move is able to rally enough signatures to achieve a majority of the House.

Democrats discussed using discharge petitions at several points last year, but no Republicans signed onto any of the efforts. And a discharge petition for Israel aid would likely not pick up support from all Democrats, meaning that Democrats would need numerous Republicans to buck their party’s leadership.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) again blasted the Senate’s reported bipartisan border deal, which has been seen as the key to advancing Israel and Ukraine aid yesterday. 

“It seems the authority to shut down the border would kick in only after as many as 5,000 illegal crossings happen a day. Why? Why would we do that?” Johnson said at a press conference on Tuesday. “That would be surrender. The goal should be zero illegal crossings a day.”

According to Semafor, Johnson told a group of European leaders on Tuesday that the supplemental bill could again be split up when it returns to the House. 

That’s a difficult proposition — the House passed a stand-alone Israel bill last year, paired with cuts to the Internal Revenue Service — but Senate Democrats have rejected the stand-alone approach. Some House conservatives would likely demand that the IRS cuts or other funding offsets be reincorporated into the bill, another proposal that Senate Republicans have rejected.

And given the widespread opposition from House Republicans to Ukraine aid, it’s not clear that a stand-alone Ukraine bill would be able to advance at all.

Asked broadly about the possibility of using a discharge position, Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-CA) suggested yesterday that Democrats “reserve the right to think about” a discharge petition “when it comes to meaningful solutions that will help advance the interests of the American people.”

Aguilar’s comments did not directly address the issue of the Israel and Ukraine aid.

Some Senate Republicans sounded increasingly pessimistic about the bill’s future yesterday evening. They reportedly debated on Tuesday evening whether to abandon the border deal and refocus on Israel and Ukraine aid.

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