John Fetterman calls House Republicans' $11.7 billion Israel aid bill 'cheap and meaningless'

Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania at the Capitol on January 23, 2024.
Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania at the Capitol on January 23, 2024.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
  • The House is voting on a $17.6 billion Israel aid bill as a broader national security bill stalls.

  • Sen. John Fetterman, a vocally pro-Israel Democrat, doesn't want to see the Senate take it up.

  • He called the GOP-proposed bill "cheap and meaningless."

Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania has stuck his neck out in support of Israel more than many other Democrats since the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks.

But that doesn't mean the Pennsylvania Democrat is breaking with his party on a $17.6 billion Israel aid bill that House Republicans are teeing up for a vote on Tuesday evening.

"It's just cheap thrills," Fetterman said of the Israel bill in a brief interview with BI at the Capitol on Tuesday. "They're just trying to duck their responsibility for helping us secure the border."

"It's just pointless," Fetterman added. "It's cheap and meaningless."

The House GOP bill provides roughly the same amount of money for Israel as a broader national security bill that also includes Ukraine aid and changes to US border security and immigration law.

Yet Republicans have rejected the border security provisions as insufficient, and House Republicans have said they will refuse to hold a vote on the bill if it passes the Senate.

Instead, House Speaker Mike Johnson is putting the Israel bill forward in an attempt to undermine the premise of the national security package — that foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel, as well as humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, should be considered together.

The theory of the case is that Democrats in particular would face pressure to pass the Israel aid through the Senate without attaching it to Ukraine aid, which is politically toxic for many Republicans.

Johnson tried this once before, passing a more than $14 billion Israel aid bill in November that included equivalent cuts to the Internal Revenue Service. That bill, almost unanimously opposed by Democrats, has not been taken up by the Senate.

This time, the Israel aid is not offset by any cuts, which has driven some opposition on the hard right but theoretically puts Democrats in a bind.

Yet Democrats have largely united against the bill, continuing to insist that Israel aid be delivered along with the other national security priorities. House Democratic leadership has urged rank-and-file lawmakers to vote against it, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has indicated he won't take it up, and President Joe Biden threatened on Monday to veto it.

Meanwhile, some senators have begun discussing the idea of passing the Ukraine and Israel aid portions of the bill without the controversial border security provisions.

Fetterman said that "would be much more attractive" than the stand-alone Israel bill.

Read the original article on Business Insider