Democrats offer State funding bill that sets up fights with GOP

Democrats offer State funding bill that sets up fights with GOP
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Senate Democrats on Monday introduced an appropriations measure for the State Department that sets up battles with the GOP over abortion, the Palestinians and climate change.

The $60 billion bill keeps in place an effort to codify a repeal of the so-called Mexico City policy. The policy prohibited U.S. funds going to organizations abroad that perform abortions or provide information about abortion.

It also would make $705 million available for international family planning, including $55 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). President BidenJoe BidenSouth Africa health minister calls travel bans over new COVID variant 'unjustified' Biden attends tree lighting ceremony after day out in Nantucket Senior US diplomat visiting Southeast Asia to 'reaffirm' relations MORE in January resumed funding for the UNFPA which was halted under the former Trump administration.

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Republicans allege that the U.N. body is complicit in coerced abortions and forced sterilizations because it operates in China — where the Chinese government is believed to be carrying out such acts against the Uyghur Muslim minority population in the territory of Xinjiang.

The UNFPA had called the claim it coerces abortion or forces sterilization “erroneous.”

It says on its website that it provides family planning services in an effort to prevent abortions, and provides health services to deal with the consequences of unsafe abortions. 

The bill also includes $1.9 billion to fund U.S. contributions to the Green Climate Fund and the Clean Technology Fund. Republicans have opposed a large price tag for the Green Climate Fund, an international program meant to battle the effects of climate change, in favor of domestic spending. 

The bill would block U.S. funds from going to the Taliban, which took over Afghanistan in August. Funds are carved out to provide support for “remote learning for Afghan students in and outside of Afghanistan.”

Democrats have also prioritized development assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, with $225 million earmarked for water, sanitation and other municipal projects. 

The bill also includes funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Republicans criticize UNRWA as a corrupt organization that stokes hatred of Israel and Jews. The agency is also criticized as perpetuating refugee status for Palestinians stemming from Israel's 1948 war of independence, and being the only refugee program in the United Nations to single out a specific group.

The bill also provides $40 million for Palestinian security assistance — a joint security coordination program between the U.S., Israel and the Palestinian Authority that typically receives bipartisan support. 

Also included is $3.3 billion in military assistance for Israel, which largely garners bipartisan support and is in line with the 10-year memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel. 

Senate Democrats also propose restricting military assistance and funding from international financial institutions for Ethiopia until “credible steps” are taken to end the conflict in the north of the country. Brutal reports of rape, murder and alleged ethnic cleansing have circulated amid Ethiopia's civil war.

Funding for Egypt also includes provisions on improvements in human rights. The delivery of $75 million to Cairo is conditioned on addressing concerns over arbitrary detention and the release of political prisoners. 

The bill earmarks $300 million to counter Chinese influence and $295 million to counter Russian influence. These funds cover additional security assistance for Ukraine and Baltic countries and countries that “are vulnerable to China's debt trap development tactics,” according to a summary of the bill.

The bill also includes $10.35 billion for global health and pandemic preparedness.