A stand-alone bill to send $17.6 billion in aid to Israel was rejected in the House on Tuesday evening as Democrats instead called for broader legislation that would also assist Ukraine and provide humanitarian aid for the war-torn Gaza Strip.
The bill, which was considered under suspension of the rules and needed a two-thirds majority to pass, went down on a 250-180 vote. Forty-six Democrats voted yes, while 14 Republicans voted no.
The vote comes as the Senate is struggling to find a path forward for its $118.3 billion supplemental package funding Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and border security. That bill seems similarly short of support as Senate Republicans condemn the measure’s immigration policy changes.
House Republicans teed up the Israel-only measure as an alternative to that package, which Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and other leaders declared “dead on arrival” in the House.
The bill would provide $4 billion to replenish the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems. It would provide $1.2 billion for the Iron Beam defense system, $3.3 billion to procure additional weapons through the Foreign Military Financing program and $1 billion to develop artillery and critical munitions.
It also would allocate $4.4 billion for the replenishment of U.S. weapons sent to Israel and $3 billion for ongoing U.S. military operations in the Middle East.
The bill’s consideration marks the second time the House has attempted to pass Israel aid. In November, Republicans brought to the floor legislation to provide $14.3 billion in aid for Israel, offset by funding cuts to the Internal Revenue Service. All but 12 Democrats voted against it.
Johnson acknowledged Tuesday that the new version, which does not include offsets and includes added resources for U.S. military operations in the Middle East, is an effort to bring more supporters on board at a time when tensions in the region are at an all-time high.
“We understand now that in the couple of months that have transpired since we passed it the first time, this situation has gotten much more dangerous,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We need to stand with Israel right now, and we cannot wait any longer, and that’s why, as desperate times call for desperate measures, that’s exactly what we’re gonna do.”
However, the removal of the offset was not enough to guarantee the bill’s success under expedited consideration.
Democratic leaders argued in a Dear Colleague letter Tuesday that Speaker Mike Johnson’s move to bring the Israel aid bill to the floor was “not being offered in good faith,” instead calling for passage of the Senate supplemental package.
“It is a nakedly obvious and cynical attempt by MAGA extremists to undermine the possibility of a comprehensive, bipartisan funding package that addresses America’s national security challenges in the Middle East, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific region and throughout the world,” they wrote.
A few dozen Democrats broke with their party. One was Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a staunch advocate of Israel — though she tempered her support with a call for more supplemental funding for humanitarian aid, Ukraine and other national security priorities.
“My conscience demands that I vote with Israel in her hour of need in this moment of crisis, but I won’t pretend that this bill comes close to meeting our security needs,” she said.
For many Democrats, the bill’s omission of humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians was a dealbreaker. Israel’s war against Hamas, which began nearly four months ago, has killed thousands of Palestinians and spawned a humanitarian crisis in the enclave.
“It’s equally important to get more life saving humanitarian aid into Gaza, because if we don’t, the situation for civilians will continue to deteriorate,” said Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., ranking member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “Starvation will grow, disease will spread, and Palestinian civilians — most of them children — will continue to suffer and many die.”
Meanwhile, the bill lost some Republican support because of the lack of offsets. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., promised Tuesday morning that “quite a few” Republicans would join him in opposing the legislation.
“It’s too much money,” he said.
It’s not yet clear whether House Republicans will attempt to move the bill at a future time. If they bring it up under a rule, a simple majority would be enough for it to pass.