Senate Democrats blocked a surprise effort by Republicans to force a vote on a House-passed Israel aid bill that includes billions in cuts to the IRS.
Senators voted, 51-48, to table (and thus kill) a bid to take up the measure, after an unexpected sequence Tuesday afternoon.
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., received recognition to move to proceed to the House-passed bill — and the clerk reported the motion with no other business pending on the floor.
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia quickly called for a quorum call to stall the floor proceedings while Democratic leadership could plot next steps.
Senators and staffers huddled and conferred with the parliamentarian, with Marshall and some of the GOP senators supporting what he called a “sneak attack” effort emerging from the chamber to talk to reporters.
“As we speak, there’s American hostages. Our troops are under assault,” Marshall said. “For a whole host of reasons, we think that we should vote on this now.”
The bill itself would provide $14.3 billion in supplemental funding, but it would ultimately add billions more to the deficit because it also would cut tax enforcement functions at the IRS, bolstered by a 2022 reconciliation law that’s been panned by Republicans.
“The White House has been profoundly cynical on military aid to Israel, because they recognize that there are large majorities that support military aid to Israel,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said. “And so they’re … holding that hostage to ram through the remainder of their partisan agenda.”
It is unusual for the minority party to get a chance to move to proceed to measures on the legislative calendar, since there are limited windows where there is no pending business, as there was Tuesday when the Senate was largely waiting for the House to pass a two-step continuing resolution.