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Good evening. It's Wednesday, February 7.
Tonight: something extremely rare happened yesterday: the U.S. Congress considered a bill to send billions of dollars to Israel—$17 billion, to be exact—on top of the $4 billion it already gets and all the weapons the U.S. has sent there since October 7 but the Congress failed to get the votes necessary to approve this transfer of U.S. resources to Tel Aviv.
As we reported last night, a bipartisan bill that was negotiated by Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, whose real goal—its top goal—was to send $60 billion to Ukraine, another $14 billion to Israel, and then threw in some very mild border security spending to pretend to Americans that they were all so concerned about them, was pronounced dead on arrival by the GOP House leadership, in large part because Donald Trump viewed the border security package is woefully inadequate. After a huge uproar from the GOP base about that border bill, all almost entirely against it, many Republican senators who were eager to vote for that bill—even some who helped negotiate it—then announced they would vote no, including Mitch McConnell, leaving all of the provisions of this bill border security—aid to Ukraine and aid to Israel—without any path to approval.
From that chaos, all the key players in Washington began showing their real priorities, forced, for once, to drop their masks. By the failure of this omnibus compromise bill, House speaker Mike Johnson—whose first priority upon becoming speaker, he said, was to pass a bill not to help Americans but rather to help “our good friend, Israel”—immediately introduced standalone legislation to simply send $17 billion to our good friend Israel. It did not even contain the budget cuts to offset this new spending that he promised would be the hallmark of his speakership. That's the bill that failed last night in the GOP House by a pretty decent margin.
Meanwhile, what Democrats are most desperate to get, which, again, is not anything for the American people, it's $60 billion for Ukraine and $17 billion for Israel, became their only legislative goal. They stopped pretending to care at all about the American border and announced that they would have a standalone bill just for Ukraine and Israel, with some also funds for Gaza, some to fund the war in Yemen and some for more aggression in Asia. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, confidently predicted that he'd have enough votes, including Republican votes, to get that passed through the Senate, even though there is still ample opposition among the House Republicans to sending more money to Ukraine, either because they oppose that on principle, or because they want spending cuts to zero out the spending increase, or because they won't send money to Ukraine without money for the American border.
In all of this, you see that many people in the power positions of Washington, in both parties, have very intense and steadfast priorities. They really believe in these priorities, the vast majority of which have absolutely nothing to do with the welfare of, or even the lives of, the American citizens they ostensibly represent. Few events like the ones over the last 48 hours in Congress more vividly demonstrate that. So, we're going to break that down and tell you exactly what happened and what it shows.
Finally: new evidence has emerged of the true nature of the destruction of Gaza by Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces, by no means confined to military targets, instead overwhelmingly aimed at destroying civilian life and civilian infrastructure in a way that has barely been seen in modern warfare, at least since World War II. On top of that, it has been confirmed that the IDF was behind a truly gruesome Telegram channel that glorified the extreme torture and mutilation of Palestinian civilians. While IDF soldiers continue to post social media videos on TikTok and elsewhere, mocking and humiliating the Palestinians and the lives that they are destroying—it's incredibly sadistic; not like a well-disciplined army or even a moral one—the U.S. is paying for all of this, remember, providing the weapons for Gaza's destruction and the whole world knows it. And whatever you think about this war, the cost to American citizens has already been quite high. From financing Israel's war, from defending it diplomatically, from providing the weapons. And those costs are sure to grow even higher now. Maybe you want to support Israel and finance Israel's war anyway, but at the very least, you should know about these costs.
For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now.