History of Israel Aid Bills

In the wake of the devastating October 7 attack on Israel, on October 20 President Biden requested that Congress appropriate an additional $106 billion in emergency supplemental spending. Demonstrating Biden’s lopsided priorities, that broke down as roughly $61 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel, a more than four-to-one ratio in favor of Ukraine funding; $14 billion for what the Biden Administration called “border security,” but which was, in reality, money to process illegal aliens into the country faster; $11 billion for humanitarian aid for Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, and others; and $5 billion for Indo-Pacific regional partners and submarine capacity.

Two weeks later, on November 2, the House countered by passing a bill to provide roughly $14 billion in emergency aid to Israel and pay for it by cutting about the same amount in funds that had already been appropriated for the Internal Revenue Service. The vote in favor of the bill was 226-196, with 12 Democrats crossing party lines to vote with 214 Republicans. 

Because the bill was paid for – that is, it redirected already-appropriated funds rather than simply borrowing more money and adding another $14 billion to the already gargantuan national debt – Senate Democrat leaders said they would not take the bill up for consideration.

A staring contest ensued for months, as the House leadership insisted it had done its job by passing a bill to provide emergency military assistance to Israel and the Senate should act on it, and the Senate leadership said what the House had done was unprecedented and refused to consider the House-passed bill.

Speaker Johnson blinked first, and on February 6 put on the House floor a so-called “clean” Israel funding bill – that is, a bill that included no provisions to pay for itself, and instead required the government borrow the money and add it to the national debt. But Johnson found he could not win a vote on a procedural requirement – Republicans, a few of whom opposed the bill’s lack of a funding provision, would not provide the votes to do so – so the Speaker had to move the bill to the floor under a different procedure called “Suspension of the Rules,” which requires a bill to garner a two-thirds majority to pass. The vote on the bill was 250-180, with 14 Republicans voting against it and 46 Democrats voting for it. But because the Suspension of the Rules procedure required a two-thirds majority to pass the bill, it failed despite having majority support.

On February 13, the Senate, by a vote of 70-29, passed an emergency supplemental spending bill containing $95 billion in funding, with 22 Senate Republicans voting in favor of the bill and 26 voting against. The spending is broken down as $60 billion to support Ukraine in the war it is waging against Russia; $14 billion in security assistance for Israel; $9 billion in humanitarian assistance; and $5 billion to support regional partners in the Indo-Pacific region.