By Walter Alarkon - 09/26/09 07:52 PM EDT
A bipartisan group of House members is blasting the Obama administration for its plan to send $400,000 to foundations connected to the children of Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi.
The group of more than two dozen lawmakers, led by Rep. Mark KirkMark KirkDuckworth settles retaliation lawsuit The Trail 2016: Berning embers Senate Dems link court fight to Congressional Baseball Game MORE (R-Ill.), said that the State Department proposal to provide funds to nonprofit groups led by Gadhafi's son and daughter sends the wrong message to families of victims of the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing. Gadhafi last month celebrated the return to Libya of the only person convicted in the bombing, Abdelbaset al Megrahi, who was released by the Scottish government on grounds of compassion.
Kirk and the group sent a letter to President Obama asking him to withdraw their proposal for funding for funding. The letter was signed by 18 Republicans and eight Democrats.
The White House did not respond to request for comment.
According to a State Department letter to Congress, $200,000 in U.S. aid would be used to train staff at the Gadhafi Development Foundation, which is seeking to build international relationships, increase transparency among other non-profit organizations and implement political and economic reforms. The foundation is led by Saif Gadhafi, the son of the Libyan leader.
Another $200,000 would go to promote women's economic opportunities. Kirk said that money would end up with a group led by Gadhafi's daughter, Aisha, who also works with the United Nations Development Program.
The State Department said it would send a total of $2.5 million out of its 2009 budget to support U.S. government agencies in Libya. The North African country had been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror. The Bush administration restored diplomatic relations to Libya in 2005, after Gadhafi renounced his program to build weapons of mass destruction.
Kirk said he is using his privileges as a House appropriator to put a hold on the funding request. Kirk said he is considering an amendment to an appropriations bill that would block the State Department from giving out the funds if the Obama administration doesn't withdraw its proposal.
Kirk noted that the State Department told Congress of its plan to give money to the Libyan organizations on Wednesday, the same day Gadhafi gave a rambling speech at the United Nations in which he suggested Israel was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.
The GOP House members signing Kirk's letter were: Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Tom Price (Ga.), Greg Walden (Ore.), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzOvernight Energy: Obama signs chemical safety reform into law House caucus to focus on business in Latin America Freedom Caucus urges vote on impeaching IRS commissioner MORE (Utah), Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.), Joe Pitts (Pa.), Steve Austria (Ohio), Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersGOP campaign chief: Turn up the heat on Clinton GOP rep: Ryan's agenda to restore representative government Restoring the VA's promise to veterans MORE (Wash.), Todd Tiahrt (Kan.), Lee Terry (Neb.), Judy Biggert (Ill.), Jeff FortenberryJeff FortenberryOvernight Healthcare: Momentum on mental health? | Zika bills head to conference | Only 10 ObamaCare co-ops left Overnight Energy: Senate Dems block energy, water bill a third time Lawmakers plead with White House for pressure on Sudan MORE (Neb.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Frank WolfFrank WolfLobbying World Overnight Regulation: Supreme Court rejects GOP redistricting challenge Supreme Court rejects GOP challenge to Va. redistricting plan MORE (Va.), Roscoe Bartlett (Md.) and Dan Burton (Ind.).
The Democrats who signed the letter were: Reps. Shelley Berkley (Nev.), Michael McMahon (N.Y.), John Adler (N.J.), Melissa Bean (Ill.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), Gerry ConnollyGerry ConnollyDem protest ignites debate about control of House cameras 'Will on the Hill' pokes fun at 2016 election IRS hearing: Five things to watch MORE (Va.), Ron Klein (Fla.) and Robert Wexler (Fla.).