A US House of Representatives committee recommends providing military aid to Israel worth $17.6 billion
Written by Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bill was unveiled in the US House of Representatives on Saturday to provide new military aid to Israel worth $17.6 billion as part of its war against the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).
House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a letter to members that the funding bill, presented by the House Appropriations Committee, could be voted on by the full House sometime next week.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives had previously approved $14.3 billion in new military aid to Israel, but on the condition that it be paid by reclaiming a significant portion of the money that was already allocated to the US Internal Revenue Service.
The Democratic-controlled Senate rejected this provision and is expected to unveil a legislative package that would help Israel as well as provide more military assistance to Ukraine in its war against Russia.
The Senate bill itself is also expected to include proposals to beef up security along the southern US border with Mexico.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has taken steps to begin debate on this multifaceted bill next week, with the first procedural vote scheduled no later than Wednesday.
According to the House Appropriations Committee, the $17.6 billion would include money to help refurbish Israel’s missile defense systems, purchase additional advanced weapons systems, and produce artillery and other munitions.
Some of the funding will also be used to replenish US weapons provided to Israel following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.
“The need to support our closest allies and forces in the region has never been more urgent,” Johnson said in his letter to his colleagues.
It was not clear whether far-right lawmakers might refuse to fund Israel without making a similar amount of savings elsewhere in the budget.
House Republicans insist that any new aid to Ukraine be accompanied by strong new US border controls at a time when record numbers of migrants are trying to enter the United States. While the Senate plans to do so, Johnson has already said that the border security package to be unveiled in the Senate is inadequate.
Before new military aid can be delivered to Israel or Ukraine, the House and Senate must pass the bill itself before sending it to Democratic President Joe Biden, to be signed into law.
The Senate also wants to include aid to Taiwan as part of its legislation.
(Reporting by Jason Lange, Richard Cowan and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)