Rep. Summer Lee

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) arrives at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. on May 18, 2023.

(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

'Unconscionable': Lee Calls Out GOP for Exploiting War to Protect Rich Tax Cheats as Poorest Suffer

The Pennsylvania Democrat argued that sending $14 billion in military aid to Israel would "result in the deaths of thousands more innocent Palestinian children in Gaza."

Democratic Rep. Summer Lee on Wednesday voiced opposition to House Republicans' proposed aid package for Israel, which would approve roughly $14 billion in assistance for the Israeli military while undermining the Internal Revenue Service's ability to pursue rich tax dodgers in the United States.

"The only thing crueler than sending $14 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars for weapons that will result in the deaths of thousands more innocent Palestinian children in Gaza is exploiting that war—exploiting the death of over 1,400 Israeli mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, and hundreds more hostages—to help corporate CEOs and billionaire donors cheat on their taxes," Lee (D-Pa.) said in a statement. "It is unconscionable."

Lee pointed to IRS chief Daniel Werfel's estimate that House Republicans' proposed $14 billion in IRS cuts would raise the federal budget deficit by $90 billion over 10 years, refuting the GOP's insistence that the cuts would offset spending on military aid for Israel.

That $90 billion, Lee noted, would be enough to "end hunger and replace every lead pipe in America or eradicate student debt or expand Medicare to 7.3 million more people while providing universal school lunch, or provide universal childcare while ensuring access to affordable housing for 450,000 veterans nationwide, or end homelessness in America and ensure every combat-injured veteran in the country can collect the full amount of their retirement and disability compensation for the next 10 years with enough money left over to reclaim every abandoned mine in Pennsylvania, clean all the toxic rivers and streams in Pittsburgh, and repair every deficient bridge in Pennsylvania so that the horrific bridge collapse that occurred at Fern Hollow in Pittsburgh one year ago this Friday never happens again."

"Unlike the CEOs of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Amazon—who under Republicans' cruel proposal would double dip on profits from weapons contracts and tax breaks—moms forced to send their kids to school hungry, young folks who can't pay off their debt, veterans who are struggling to get by after being sent to fight in endless wars—don't have million-dollar lobbying budgets to exploit war to get a free pass to cheat on their taxes," Lee added. "These folks want peace, safety, and security for their own children–and for children in Israel, Palestine, and across the world. Now is the moment for every Progressive in Congress to stand up for them."

The Republican-controlled House is expected to vote on the Israel legislation later Thursday, but the bill is likely dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate as it doesn't include Ukraine aid and other funding that President Joe Biden has requested.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) signaled Wednesday that he supports providing additional military aid to Ukraine but wants to approve it in a separate package.

Lee is one of the few Democratic lawmakers who has criticized Congress for moving to provide the Israeli military with additional weaponry as it commits mass atrocities in the Gaza Strip. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Israeli launched a series of airstrikes on Gaza's largest refugee camp, killing nearly 200 people.

"How many more innocent lives will be lost in this endless cycle of violence?" Lee asked Wednesday in response to the Israeli strikes.

Since October 7—the day Hamas-led attacks on Israel killed more than 1,400 people—Israeli bombing has killed more than 9,000 people in Gaza, including more than 3,600 children. As the death toll has climbed and evidence of grave war crimes has mounted, the Biden administration has continued to publicly offer unconditional support for the Israeli government.

Last month, Lee joined Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and other progressive lawmakers in introducing a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and deescalation in Gaza, a call that has since been echoed by the head of the United Nations and major human rights organizations.

"We have a once-in-a-generation responsibility to save Israeli and Palestinian lives and to help prevent another endless war that will kill and displace an entire generation of innocent children," Lee said in an October 25 statement. "The only path to peace, the only path to saving more innocent Palestinian and Israeli children and hostages is de-escalation. The people of Gaza need food, water, electricity, and now basic healthcare. Innocent Israeli and American hostages need to be released. We need a cease-fire now."

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