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Roger Marshall and Eric Schmitt’s support for Israel comes with one big MAGA condition | Opinion

Let’s start with the bottom line: Sens. Roger Marshall and Eric Schmitt aren’t telling you the whole truth about the Israel aid bill they tried to pass Tuesday.

Ever since President Joe Biden last month proposed a funding package that would link financial support for Israel in its war against Hamas to other administration priorities — including, most notably, more money for Russia’s war on Ukraine — the two Republicans have complained loudly about lumping all those issues together.

Best to pass a “clean” bill, they said. Let the Senate consider Israel and Ukraine separately.

Which is fine by me. But that’s not really what they tried to do on Tuesday.

It was Marshall, from Kansas, who got the ball rolling: He asked the Senate to pass a $14.3 billion Israel aid bill that has already been approved by the GOP-controlled House.

It didn’t happen. Democrats voted to table the bill instead.

“Why do Senate Democrats say they support Israel but block our efforts to get Israel the aid needed in their fight against Hamas terrorists?” Marshall wrote online. “They want this aid to come with conditions to fund unrelated, separate conflicts. Our support for Israel doesn’t come with conditions.”

But there was a condition.

You don’t have to take my word for it. The Fox News website on Tuesday pointed out the House bill — the one Marshall tried to get passed — comes with a very particular requirement: The aid to Israel would be paid for with cuts to the Internal Revenue Service.

If you’re a Republican, you might argue that the IRS provision is a good condition. Certainly, right-wingers have railed against Biden’s recent increases to the agency budget, which they seem to think of as creeping tyranny. (Nothing says “freedom” like the ability to cheat on your taxes.) And there are a lot of self-described fiscal conservatives who would probably say it’s smart to spend a little less money in one part of your budget if you’re going to spend a little more money in another part.

Nonetheless, it is a condition. One that Marshall failed to mention in his social media posts about the bill.

Schmitt, the Missourian, backed Marshall’s play.

Cuts to IRS would add billions to budget deficit

Democrats blocked a clean Israeli aid bill — that is paid for — today on the Senate floor,” he wrote online. “Pretty sure the MSM won’t cover that.”

Again, this doesn’t quite tell the full story. Would the IRS cuts pay for the Israel aid in the package? Maybe. But they would actually create a bigger budget problem than the one that Republicans say already exists.

How? Because cutting money used to ensure that taxes get paid means fewer taxes get paid. That’s probably the idea, of course, but it has negative results: The Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would add more than $26 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years.

So much for fiscal conservatism.

Put it all together and the idea that Republicans on Tuesday were simply trying to pass a clean Israel bill without any conditions doesn’t really pass the smell test.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting Congress to consider its support for Israel and Ukraine separately. But let’s be clear about the agenda: Marshall and Schmitt — along with Sen. Josh Hawley, the Missouri Republican — are ready to kill Ukraine aid, and they know their task will be easier if they cleave the two issues.

One of two things were going to happen Tuesday when Marshall attempted his gambit: If the bill somehow passed, a major agenda item on the right — defunding the IRS — would have moved a few inches closer to reality. And if the bill didn’t pass, then Republicans could hold a press conference to complain, somewhat disingenuously, that Democrats don’t want to send aid to Israel.

That’s what you call a win-win, if you’re Roger Marshall and Eric Schmitt. Sometimes losing means you get to own the libs.

Joel Mathis is a regular Star Opinion correspondent. He lives in Lawrence with his wife and son. Formerly a writer and editor at Kansas newspapers, he served nine years as a syndicated columnist.