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House GOP leaders plan to take up Israel aid after Iran attack

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, seen here on Capitol Hill on April 10, said Saturday that he will "continue to engage with the White House to insist upon a proper response" following Iran's attack on Israel.
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Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, seen here on Capitol Hill on April 10, said Saturday that he will "continue to engage with the White House to insist upon a proper response" following Iran's attack on Israel.

The House of Representatives is shifting its schedule for the coming week to consider legislation supporting Israel in the aftermath of Iran launching drones toward Israel on Saturday, marking a significant escalation in the Middle East conflict.

"In light of Iran's unjustified attack on Israel, the House will move from its previously announced legislative schedule next week to instead consider legislation that supports our ally Israel and holds Iran and its terrorist proxies accountable," said House Majority Leader Steve Scalise in a statement.

He added: "The House of Representatives stands strongly with Israel, and there must be consequences for this unprovoked attack."

Israeli officials say this is the first time Iran has launched an attack on Israel from Iranian soil. U.S. forces were active in shooting down Iranian drones to support Israel, according to a senior U.S. defense official.

Iran said its attack was retaliation for an airstrike on its consulate in Syria earlier this month, which it blames on Israel. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied being behind the attack.

President Biden returned to the White House ahead of schedule from Delaware Saturday afternoon to be briefed by top national security advisers.

House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement he "will continue to engage with the White House to insist upon a proper response" to the attack.

The shape of an aid package is unclear

It's not clear what type of bill to aid Israel the House may take up. The Senate previously passed a $95 billion foreign aid packagethat dedicated aid for Israel and Ukraine. That package hasn't been taken up by the House, where blocs of Republican members object to additional Ukraine funding. Some progressive members have also expressed resistance to funding for Israel.

Former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the chamber should take up the Senate-passed bill.

"It is absolutely imperative that when the House returns on Monday, we pass the national security supplemental immediately to provide Israel and Ukraine with essential aid to defend itself and deter further attacks from Iran and Russia," he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also pushedfor the House to take up the Senate-passed supplemental.

"The national security supplemental that has waited months for action will provide critical resources to Israel and our own military forces in the region," McConnell said in a statement Saturday night. He added, "Tehran and its proxies are emboldened when they see divisions between the U.S. and Israel."

What lawmakers are saying

There were immediate bipartisan calls from members of Congress to pass aid for Israel in the aftermath of the Iranian attack.

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., called on Johnson to "bring forward a supplemental package of aid for Israel in order to support them in their time of need."

"This direct Iranian attack, after the regime has consistently used its proxies, warrants immediate U.S. action to support any Israeli response," Lawler, who sits on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in a statement on X.

Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., called Iran "the single most destabilizing force in the Middle East."

"Iran has fired drones at Israel. The United States will stand with Israel as it seeks to defend itself in the face of an Iranian attack," he said in a statement. Torres has been one of the most outspoken House Democrats in defense of Israel after the militant group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.