Speaker of the House Mike Johnson talks with reporters at the Capitol, Nov. 2, 2023. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Newly minted Speaker Mike Johnson defended his approach to redirect IRS funds to provide aid to Israel on Sunday, saying Republicans are “trying to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s resources.”
“Instead of printing new dollars or borrowing it from another nation to send over to fulfill our obligations and help our ally, we want to pay for it, what a concept, we are trying to change how Washington works,” Johnson told Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday.”
House Republicans on Thursday passed a $14.5 billion package to provide military aid to Israel mostly on party lines, pulling from the IRS funding that was part of Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer previously called the plan “not serious,” and and President Joe Biden has threatened to veto the bill.
“We weighed priorities and said, it is more important to protect Israel than to hire more IRS agents,” Johnson said. Both Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell want the Israel aid incorporated in a larger bill that also provides funding for Ukraine, Taiwan and the border. Their legislation is not dependent on pulling funding from the IRS.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) defended the House GOP plan on ABC’s “This Week,” saying Biden should sign the legislation if it passes the Senate because it provides necessary aid.
“If the Senate has an issue with the bill, they can take it up,” Scalise told host George Stephanopoulos. “If they send it to the president, I have no doubt the president would sign that bill because it gives Israel the aid they need, again, with a bipartisan vote out of the House.”
Johnson defended the House GOP’s plans to tie Ukraine aid to a border plan, but did not say if he would be willing to put the Israel aid in the same deal.
“When you couple Ukraine and the border that makes sense to people,” he said. “If we’re going to protect Ukraine’s border … we have to take care of our own border first.”