President Joe Biden is threatening to veto House Republicans’ aid package to Israel unless it includes funding for Ukraine — and Speaker Mike Johnson should call his bluff.
The confirmation came during Thursday’s White House press briefing, in which National Security Council spokesman John Kirby was asked whether Biden would veto legislation containing aid for Israel in its fight against Hamas but not “other issues.”
“The president would veto an only-Israel bill. I think that we’ve made that clear,” Kirby said.
In the wake of Hamas’ horrific attack against Israel, House Republicans unveiled a new spending package on Monday that would provide the Jewish state with $14.3 billion in aid using previously allocated funding for the IRS. Of course, this has drawn backlash from administration officials such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who threw a tantrum over the proposal on X. Despite authorizing $113 billion in aid for Ukraine in 2022 alone, the White House has since proposed a $105 billion spending package that would force Congress to ship billions of dollars to the second most corrupt country in Europe as a package deal with U.S. aid to Israel.
But Biden isn’t the only politico in Washington threatening to block aid to Israel in order to continue bankrolling America’s proxy war with Russia. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to subtly voice his displeasure with House Republicans’ bid to separate U.S. aid to Israel and Ukraine and baselessly claim the two conflicts are interconnected.
“At the risk of repeating myself, the threats facing America and our allies are serious and they’re intertwined,” McConnell said. “If we ignore that fact, we do so at our own peril.”
The Kentucky Republicans’ remarks came days after he separately endorsed Biden’s $105 billion spending proposal, voiced opposition to separating U.S. aid to the two aforementioned countries, and asserted that the ongoing bloodshed in Ukraine is OK because it’s good for the U.S. industrial base.
Having previously voted against additional funding for Ukraine, Johnson — who was elected House speaker last week — should show Republican voters what he’s made of. If Biden and McConnell are willing to block U.S. aid to Israel as the latter fights for its very survival, then Johnson should force them to do it.
Johnson shouldn’t waste time engaging in behind-closed-doors negotiations, which Republicans always lose. Instead, he should corral his caucus together, pass House Republicans’ bill, and back Biden and the Senate into a corner. Make them explain to the American people why they’re withholding aid to America’s most important ally in the Middle East in order to funnel more U.S. taxpayer dollars into corrupt Ukrainian officials’ coffers.
If Johnson has any interest in remaining speaker and differentiating himself from his predecessor, he needs to stand strong on fights that matter when they matter. Otherwise, he should do conservatives a favor and exit stage left.