Both of New Hampshire’s Democrats voted no Thursday to a bipartisan $14.3 billion bill giving aid to war-torn Israel. It was the opening salvo in the legislative process to send military support to the Jewish state in the wake of the deadly Oct. 7 terror attack by the Hamas government of neighboring Gaza.
While a dozen Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for the legislation, both Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas followed the instructions of Democratic Party leadership and voted against the aid package.
Two Republicans, Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia joined the Democratic majority in opposing the bill.
The House floor broke out in cheers after the 226-196 vote was announced.
The votes by Kuster and Pappas appear to be at odds with their public statements in the wake of the Hamas attack; both have opposed pro-Israel legislation in the past.
“By refusing to help Israel, Chris Pappas is perpetuating the growing antisemitism rotting the Democratic Party to the core,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Savannah Viar. “Israel has a right to defend itself and America has an obligation to stand alongside the Jewish people – but not according to Chris Pappas.”
The White House said President Joe Biden will veto the Israel aid bill if it reaches his desk. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Senate won’t take up the bill.
“I hope they’re bluffing,” Rep. Nick LaLota (R., N.Y.) said of the Democrats. “I think we have to support Israel at all costs.”
Democrats object to the fact that the measure would pay for the Israel aid not by borrowing additional money, but by shifting money given to the IRS under the Inflation Reduction Act. Instead, Biden and his allies want Congress to pass a massive $106 billion foreign aid package that also includes money for Ukraine and Taiwan.
Both Kuster and Pappas support the $106 billion Biden spending plan.
The vote is viewed as a win for newly-selected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.), an obscure member of Congress who got the job in the aftermath of the vote to vacate the chair engineered by fellow Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz. Only eight Republicans supported Gaetz, but every Democrat — including Kuster and Pappas — backed Gaetz’s move to oust former Speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.)
The Israel aid bill would move money from the IRS, meant to fund more audits of American taxpayers, to Israel. They would use that cash for the Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems and the development of the Iron Beam defense system. Other cash would be used to buy weapons to fight Hamas.
“If Democrats in the Senate or the House — or anyone else, anywhere else — want to argue that hiring more IRS agents is more important than standing with Israel in this moment, I’m ready to have that debate,” Johnson said before the vote. “But I did not attach that for political purposes.”
Pappas wants to have that argument, condemning Johnson’s legislation as “a bogus partisan bill that will only delay needed aid to Israel and the humanitarian assistance that must accompany it. ‘
And, he added, “By linking Israel aid to Republicans’ priority of letting wealthy tax cheats off the hook, the Speaker has shown just how unserious and cynical this bill is.”
Kuster agreed, and she added another complaint the GOP didn’t include money for “humanitarian aid” to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
“The Republican House Majority’s bill [would] abandon support for… innocent civilians in Gaza and the West Bank,” Kuster said in a press release. “Let’s stand with our allies [and] deliver critical humanitarian aid to the civilians in Gaza.”
Johnson has said that Ukraine aid and securing the U.S. border will be tied together and put up for a vote in the near future. He has said there was no plan “to abandon” Ukraine, and he met with Biden on Thursday to discuss the issue.
New Hampshire Democrats rejected the aid to Israel the same day as media reports of a video in which Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told a Lebanese news outlet that his organization is determined to repeat the Oct. 7 attack “again and again.”
“We must remove that country,” Hamad said. “We must teach Israel a lesson, and we will do this again and again. The Al-Aqsa Flood is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth. Because we have the determination…to fight.”