House and Senate Republicans Clash Over Military Aid

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell concludes a news conference on September 27, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Hello and happy Halloween from the nation’s capital, where kids in pumpkin suits and princess dresses roamed the Senate office buildings in search of treats last night. Next up: an iconic bi-paw-tisan dog costume parade this afternoon. For now, though, let’s get to the news.

New House Speaker Mike Johnson hasn’t even had the gavel a full week, and he’s already on a collision course with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell. Military assistance to three of America’s democratic allies—Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan—hangs in the balance, with President Joe Biden urging Congress to quickly pass a $106 billion funding package that includes the aid.

Although the White House is hoping to combine all the military assistance into one package—which would also include funding for border security—Johnson on Monday introduced legislation splitting off $14.3 billion for Israel from the rest of Biden’s request. House GOP leaders expect the chamber to vote on that standalone bill this week—and Democrats may overwhelmingly oppose it, because Republicans included language to it cutting funding for the Internal Revenue Service. 

The bill comes as Republicans in the lower chamber have grown increasingly resistant to additional Ukraine aid, and some GOP lawmakers have expressed frustration at the Biden administration’s efforts to circumvent that resistance by pairing the more controversial Ukraine funding with broadly popular aid to Israel. McConnell, however, didn’t seem to mind the strategy; he’s suggested some of the package’s border security details should be beefed up, but he appears to largely be in alignment with Democratic leaders on tackling the bill all at once.

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