Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Johnson Tries to Cut Off the Senate Border Bill with a Bill that Supports Only Israel

Mike Johnson is clearly afraid of the Senate border bill and is trying to head it off at the pass. He is preparing a standalone bill that provides $17.6 billion in aid for Israel, but nothing for Ukraine and nothing for the border. He hopes that this will pass the House easily and maybe the Senate, thus relieving some of the pressure and making it harder for the Senate bill to pass the House. Absent the Israel-only bill, some House members would support the Senate bill simply because they want to provide aid to Israel. If the Israel-only bill passes, that motivation to vote for the Senate bill vanishes. Remember, the actual funding in any of the bills is irrelevant to the Speaker. All that Johnson cares about is pleasing Donald Trump and all that Trump cares about is denying Joe Biden a win. Actual policy does not often play any role in Republican governance anymore, particularly in the House of Representatives. It is only about the politics.

The Israel-only bill is similar, but not identical, to an earlier bill the House passed. That bill was "paid for," in part, by taking some funding away from IRS. That little stunt cost the earlier bill a dozen Democratic votes. Johnson is now so desperate to please Trump by getting this new bill through the House, in order to derail the Senate bill that Trump hates, that he removed the piece that took money from IRS to pay for the aid to Israel. The new bill doesn't remove any IRS funding. The old bill, with the hit to IRS funding, never had a chance in the Senate. This one might, although Democratic senators might balk since they want to fund Ukraine, and both Democratic and Republican senators might prefer the more comprehensive bill that was unveiled by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) yesterday.

It is entirely possible that we could have a situation in which the Senate has passed a large bill with aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, and money to beef up the border, while the House has passed an Israel-only bill. Then each chamber will be faced with a choice to bring up the bill from the other chamber or not. If Johnson says: "I will not bring up the Senate bill for a vote," Chuck Schumer might say: "In that case, I will not bring up the House bill for a vote." Passing both bills would give Israel twice as much money as Biden wants to provide, so that is not a likely option. We have no idea what will happen next, given the contradictory views of Johnson and Schumer. Maybe no bill will pass. That would be a victory for Donald Trump and not something Biden really wants. On the other hand, failure to pass anything would allow Biden to campaign on "We had a chance to shut down the border and Trump blocked it because he wanted to keep the border as a campaign issue rather than actually solve the problem." (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates