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House to vote on standalone Israel aid bill as Johnson attacks senators for excluding him from border talks

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) listens during a news conference following the Republican conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol on January 17, 2024 in Washington, DC.
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) listens during a news conference following the Republican conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol on January 17, 2024 in Washington, DC.

By Melanie Zanona, CNN

(CNN) — The House will vote next week on a standalone bill providing aid for Israel, House Speaker Mike Johnson announced in a letter Saturday, representing an about-face for the speaker as the Senate prepares to unveil its own long-awaited border deal and foreign aid package.

Johnson put a $14.3 billion Israel aid package on the floor last year that included partisan IRS funding cuts that Democrats opposed. Now, the Louisiana Republican is planning to move a $17.6 billion Israel bill with no offsets, upping pressure on Democrats to support it.

In his “Dear Colleague” letter to lawmakers, Johnson attacked senators for excluding him and the House from bipartisan negotiations over a border security deal, which is expected to be paired with aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

“While the Senate appears poised to finally release text of their supplemental package after months of behind closed doors negotiations, their leadership is aware that by failing to include the House in their negotiations, they have eliminated the ability for swift consideration of any legislation,” Johnson wrote. “As I have said consistently for the past three months, the House will have to work its will on these issues and our priorities will need to be addressed.”

Johnson called on the Senate to take up the standalone Israel bill swiftly, ratcheting up pressure on senators to abandon their efforts to keep Israel aid linked with other issues.

“During debate in the House and in numerous subsequent statements, Democrats made clear that their primary objection to the original House bill was with its offsets,” Johnson wrote. “The Senate will no longer have excuses, however misguided, against swift passage of this critical support for our ally.”

The White House on Saturday blasted the move, which would upend the Biden administration’s efforts to pass a national security supplemental funding package that includes additional funding for Ukraine and the US-Mexico border, as Republicans’ “latest cynical maneuver.”

“The security of Israel should be sacred, not a political game,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “We strongly oppose this ploy which does nothing to secure the border, does nothing to help the people of Ukraine defend themselves against Putin’s aggression, and denies humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians.”

Senate negotiators are expected to unveil bill text for a border deal and supplemental funding package no later than Sunday, with procedural votes starting next week.

But its prospects for passage remain in doubt, given the opposition from former President Donald Trump and the House GOP.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s DJ Judd contributed to this report.

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