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US House Republicans' Israel-only aid bill faces opposition in Senate

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 31, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 31, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - U.S. senators from both parties expressed doubts on Tuesday about House of Representatives Republicans' plan to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel by cutting funding for the Internal Revenue Service, without providing aid to Ukraine.

In the first major legislative action under new Speaker Mike Johnson, House Republicans unveiled a standalone supplemental spending bill only for Israel on Monday, despite President Joe Biden's request for a $106 billion package that would include aid for Israel and Ukraine and funding to boost competition with China in the Indo-Pacific as well as security along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Republicans have a narrow majority in the House, but Biden's fellow Democrats control the Senate. To become law, the bill would have to pass both the House and Senate and be signed by Biden.

Democrats said the Republican bill would be dead on arrival in the Senate, even if it passed the House.

"The bottom line is it's not a serious proposal," Senate Democratic Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, told reporters.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate said he felt the four issues needed to be addressed.

"We need to treat all four of these areas, all four of them, Ukraine, Israel,Taiwan and the border," McConnell told reporters.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Johnson on Tuesday after testifying in the Senate. At the hearing, Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Ukraine needed continued U.S. assistance to win its fight against Russian invaders.

Blinken told reporters: "It was a very good meeting. I appreciate the opportunity. I'll leave our conversation at that."

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said they had discussed issues including Biden's request for support for Ukraine and Israel.

Republicans are expected to pass the legislation in the House as soon as this week.