Returning Congress Will Focus on Aid to Ukraine, Israel
Author: Greg Valliere
November 27, 2023
THERE ARE ENOUGH VOTES IN THE SENATE to approve a deal, but House Speaker Mike Johnson and House conservatives believe the $106 billion in aid requested by the White House is too expensive. The details of a bill — involving complicated asylum reforms — may not be ironed out until Christmas Eve, just before Congress adjourns for the year. A chaotic finish to the year is what Johnson has vowed to avoid.
THERE’S ENOUGH SUPPORT IN BOTH HOUSES to pass aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, but the key is a tradeoff that addresses the border, an extension of the child care credit, and perhaps some curbs on the Internal Revenue Service. The risk, of course, is that this bill could become a “Christmas tree,” loaded with new spending.
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER said this weekend that he plans to hold a vote during the week of Dec. 4, which looks do-able. But getting the House to pass a bill within a week after that will be difficult, then a House-Senate conference committee would have to iron out a final bill, perhaps just days before Christmas.
SCHUMER DECLARED THAT SENATORS SHOULD expect “long days and nights, and potentially weekends in December.” The White House’s funding request in October included $13.6 billion in additional funding for the border that would allow the hiring of 1,300 Border Patrol agents and 1,600 asylum officers who could help speed up the processing of migrants with asylum claims.
THIS WHITE HOUSE REQUEST included more than $61 billion for aid to Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel, and $7.4 billion for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region. That amount of spending will encounter fierce resistance in the House. Opposition from even four or five House radicals could kill the entire bill.
JOHNSON WILL FIGHT FOR the bill during December, but just as Kevin McCarthy couldn’t get quite enough votes to raise the debt ceiling without support from Democrats, Johnson may have to take that route — which could lead to his ouster later this winter.
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