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Biden threatens veto of U.S. House's 'political ploy' Israel bill

Opening of the Biden for President campaign office in Wilmington

By Patricia Zengerle

(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden's administration said on Monday he would veto a standalone bill backed by House of Representatives Republicans that would provide aid to Israel, as the White House pushes for a broader measure providing assistance to Ukraine and Israel and providing new funds for border security.

"The Administration strongly encourages both chambers of the Congress to reject this political ploy and instead quickly send the bipartisan Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act to the President’s desk," the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.

Officials from the Democratic president's administration have been working for months with Senate Democrats and Republicans on legislation unveiled on Sunday combining an overhaul of U.S. immigration policy and new funding for border security with billions of dollars in emergency aid for Ukraine, Israel and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

The $118 billion spending measure also would provide humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by global conflicts.

"The Administration strongly opposes this ploy which does nothing to secure the border, does nothing to help the people of Ukraine defend themselves against Putin's aggression, fails to support the security of American synagogues, mosques, and vulnerable places of worship, and denies humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians, the majority of whom are women and children," the statement said.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson announced on Saturday that the House would reject the bipartisan Senate bill, and instead vote this week on a measure providing aid only to Israel.

"The president’s veto threat is an act of betrayal," Johnon said in a statement on Monday evening. "In threatening to veto aid to Israel and to our military forces, President Biden is abandoning our ally in its time of greatest need."

Republicans are bitterly divided over the legislation, with Donald Trump - the frontrunner for his party's presidential nomination - and his closest allies loudly voicing opposition, calling the Senate plan insufficiently tough.

Trump has made security at the border with Mexico a major talking point in his campaigning against Biden ahead of the November election.

The Republican-majority House passed an Israel-only bill in November, but it was never taken up in the Democratic-led Senate, as negotiators worked on Biden's request for Congress to approve a broader emergency security package.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; additional reporting by Eric Beech, Costas Pitas and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Stephen Coates)