Rep. Mike Johnson’s Largest Donor Was AIPAC. He’s Trying to Cut Free Tax Filing to Send Weapons to Israel.

Johnson’s first order of business as House speaker is to seek budget cuts in exchange for a $14 billion aid package for Israel.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition on Oct. 28, 2023, in Las Vegas. Photo: David Becker/AP

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, was the top donor to Rep. Mike Johnson during his most recent campaign, chipping in $25,000 between 2021 and 2022, according to an OpenSecrets analysis of his political contributors. Johnson’s first order of business as speaker of the House is to seek budget cuts in exchange for a $14 billion aid package for Israel.

The Louisiana Republican’s proposal for the aid to Israel, which comes as the country continues its unchecked bombardment of Gaza, would strip $14 billion from the Internal Revenue Service, including for a program the agency is developing to allow Americans to file their taxes for free.

AIPAC, for its part, is pushing Congress to provide additional funding to Israel amid the ongoing war. In an ominous statement on Monday, AIPAC tweeted, “We strongly support the measure to fully fund critical security assistance for Israel in its fight to destroy Hamas. We recognize that this is the first step in a process that will continue to unfold. Each step of the process, we will work for overwhelming bipartisan Congressional support for this critical assistance.”

Johnson’s proposal, in its current iteration, faces steep odds in Congress, though it could force Democrats to to choose between voting against aid to Israel and incurring the wrath of the powerful AIPAC lobby, or voting for a bill that will subvert President Joe Biden’s efforts to strengthen the IRS. 

The bill would also slash funding that would bolster the IRS’s tax evasion enforcement and tax filing assistance. The proposal is a nonstarter with Senate Democrats who have decried the strategy and pointed to a Congressional Budget Office score showing that the move would actually increase the federal deficit. It would also likely be dismissed by Biden, who secured $80 billion to boost the IRS through his Inflation Reduction Act.

Biden has called on Congress to pass a $106 billion military assistance package for both Ukraine and Israel. Earlier this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the president’s plea during a Senate hearing, where he was repeatedly interrupted by protesters decrying the administration’s support for the war in Gaza.

Johnson, meanwhile, seeks to decouple the Israel military aid from assistance to Ukraine. A bill that provides funding only to Israel may be a hard sell for Democrats who face increasing calls to support a ceasefire — a humanitarian intervention AIPAC has explicitly rejected. (So far, 18 members of Congress have signed onto a resolution urging a ceasefire in Gaza.)

In response to Johnson’s proposal, a bipartisan group of representatives wrote, “The introduction of offsets, or the potential deferral of our commitments, threatens not only our national interest, but also our long-term fiscal health. It is far better and less costly in blood and treasure to ensure Russia, Iran, and Hamas are defeated in their current wars than it will be if they achieve strategic victories against Ukraine or Israel.”

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