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Democrats oppose IRS cuts in Israel funding bill, hope to block it in Senate

Washington, Nov 5 (IANS) The battle lines are drawn as the Democrats will take on the Republicans in the Senate on Monday for excluding Ukraine in the legislation the House of Representatives passed on Thursday to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel, pairing it with cuts to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funding that Democrats strongly oppose.

The Republican-led House passed the legislation providing $14.3 billion in aid to Israel in its war against Hamas, but Democrats say the legislation is dead on arrival in the Senate, as President Joe Biden has vowed to veto it, media reports said.

The 226-196 vote was mostly along party lines. A dozen Democrats voted with nearly all Republicans in support of the measure; just two Republicans — Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia — joined most Democrats in opposing it, USA TODAY said.

Spearheaded by the newly elected heavy right winger Speaker Mike Johnson, the legislation is said to be very narrow in scope to pass muster in the Senate dominated by the Democrats.

The slim GOP majority in the House (222- 213) got little help from Democrats, who mostly say they favour aid to Israel but voted against the cuts to funding for the IRS.

“The cuts to IRS funding is a poison pill,” Democrats said as it was designed to ramp up enforcement and catch tax cheats, bringing in more revenue.

Democrats say a new Congressional Budget Office report claimsthe IRS funding would add nearly $27 billion to the deficit.

Historically, the GOP has opposed taxes, particularly to the rich, whereas the Democrats have played Robin Hood to impose taxes on the rich to fund social welfare programmes for the urban middle class and the poor.

A major clash is in the offing in the Democrat-dominated Senate over much-needed Israel aid. Biden and Senate Democrats are backing a broader approach, pushing for $106 billion for both Israel and Ukraine aid and humanitarian aid for Gaza, as well as funding for US border operations, in one package, CNN reported.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed on Thursday that the House bill would go nowhere in the Senate.

“I am glad that the president issued a veto threat over this stunningly unserious proposal,” Schumer said in a floor speech. “The Senate will not be considering this deeply flawed proposal from the House GOP.”

House Speaker Johnson told reporters the GOP’s opposition to IRS provisions was based on Americans’ feelings that they wanted Congress to get its fiscal house in order. “If Democrats in the Senate or the House or anyone else want to argue that hiring more IRS agents is more important than standing with Israel at this minute, I’m ready to have that debate,” he said.

Despite Democratic leaders’ whipping members to vote ‘NO’, 12 Democrats broke with their party and backed the bill. Among them were a handful of Jewish Democrats.

Congress is barreling toward a November 17 deadline to fund the government in the first big litmus test for Johnson. The House and the Senate are taking divergent approaches to the appropriations process. The lawmakers are moving toward another short-term funding bill. Aid to Israel may end up attached to a stopgap measure if it doesn’t pass the Senate.

“There’s a growing recognition that we’re going to need another stopgap funding measure,” Johnson told reporters, adding that his preference is a short-term bill through January 15 but that he’s still sounding out members for ideas.



Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad is a news channel and fortnightly newspaper meant for Australia’s Indian community and, besides news, focuses on lifestyle subjects like health, travel, culture, arts, beauty, fashion, entertainment, Bollywood, etc. Our YouTube channel here features daily news bulletins besides infotainment videos on lifestyle subjects.

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