The House rejected a bill that would have provided $17.6 billion in Israel aid. Here's why.

WASHINGTON – The House failed to pass over $17.6 billion in assistance to Israel on Tuesday. It's a blow to House Speaker Mike Johnson’s attempts to kill the Senate’s sweeping, bipartisan deal that would tie foreign aid to changes in border and migrant policy.

The bill failed by a vote of 250-180. The legislation faced fierce opposition from multiple corners of the lower chamber and required significant bipartisan support as Republican leaders put the bill under suspension, a procedural tactic that fast-tracks a bill for a vote but requires two-thirds support to pass.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have long called for additional aid to Israel as its war with Hamas rages on in the Middle East. But some House Republicans and Democrats – and some Senate lawmakers – still raised concerns about the latest push.

Many progressives who voted against the bill cited Israel’s continued offensive in Gaza, calling for stronger human rights protections in the region. Other Democrats voted against the bill in favor of a bipartisan package that would also provide aid to Ukraine. Meanwhile, hard-right conservatives knocked the bill because it doesn't contain a specific provision to pay for the billions in aid.

House Democratic leaders also railed against the bill in a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday, calling it an attempt 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."

But this isn't the first time House lawmakers have tried to pass aid to Israel under contentious circumstances. The lower chamber passed legislation last year, mostly along party lines, that would have sent $14.3 billion in Israel. However, it included a provision rescinding funding from the Internal Revenue Service to pay for the aid, a move Democrats immediately rejected.

Johnson announced the latest aid bill for Israel just a day before a group of bipartisan Senators released the text of a deal to tie foreign aid, including to Israel and Ukraine, to changes in border and migrant policy. Johnson and House GOP leadership have all but killed the deal, which was four months in the making, saying it doesn't go far enough to address the crisis at the southern border.

The White House, which has supported the Senate’s border deal, also threatened to veto the House's Israel bill if it made it to Biden's desk and dismissed it as a “cynical political maneuver."

“The security of Israel should be sacred, not a political game. We strongly oppose this ploy which does nothing to secure the border, does nothing to help the people of Ukraine defend themselves against Putin’s aggression, and denies humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians, the majority of them women and children, which the Israelis supported by opening the access route,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement over the weekend.

US House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., walks to give his inaugural floor speech as Speaker at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2024.
US House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., walks to give his inaugural floor speech as Speaker at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2024.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Border fight: House rejects bill providing $17.6 billion in Israel aid