Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Sunday defended including cuts to the IRS in exchange for aid to Israel, arguing the House is attempting to “take care of our priorities.”
Pressed on “Fox News Sunday” over if the proposed cuts to IRS funding will add billions to the country’s deficit, Johnson responded, “But only in Washington, can you cut funding, add a pay-for to a new spending measure and they say that it’s terrible for the deficit.”
“Listen, we’re trying to take care of our priorities and we will,” Johnson continued. “We know that these other important measures are right there on the table and we’re working through it hour by hour, day by day and we’re going to meet those obligations but we have to do these things in the proper order.”
In one of his first major policy moves as Speaker, Johnson and the House GOP earlier this week rolled out a $14.3 billion aid package for Israel. The aid would be covered by cutting the same amount from IRS funding, a detail that has provoked the ire of House Democrats.
The House approved the bill in a 226-196 vote almost entirely along party lines, with 12 Democrats joining all but two Republicans to move the bill through the lower chamber.
The bill will likely be met with opposition from Democrats and some Republican leaders in the Senate. President Biden has said he would veto the House measure if it did pass in both chambers.
Johnson’s stand-alone bill goes against President Biden’s previous $105 billion emergency funding request to Congress that included aid for Israel, Ukraine, security operations at the U.S.-Mexico border and allies in the Indo-Pacific.
Fox News anchor Shannon Bream on Sunday pointed to comments from House Democrat Brendan Boyle (Penn.), who argued Johnson is prioritizing “deficit-busting tax giveaways for the wealth over helping Israel.”
Presented with this comment, Johnson said, “Shannon, right now, we have a $33.6 trillion deferral debt. Just last week, the Treasury Department of the Biden administration and now said we’re going to have to borrow over $1.5 trillion over the next two quarters, six months to continue our operation as a government.”
“This is not a sustainable track, we can take care of our obligations but we can do it in a responsible manner and that’s what we’re committed to,” Johnson continued.