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Trump administration releases $105M in military aid for Lebanon after months-long delay

The Trump administration has released $105 million in military aid to Lebanon after months of withholding the money without explanation. 

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The administration had withheld the money since September despite it having been approved by Congress and supported by the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council but had stated no reason for not releasing it.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that "the United States is providing $105 million in foreign military financing for the Lebanese Armed Forces," but did not give a reason for the hold.

"The President and this Administration take our obligation to the American taxpayers very seriously," the spokesperson said.

"This Administration continually reviews and thoroughly evaluates the effectiveness of all United States foreign assistance to ensure that funds go toward activities that further U.S. foreign policy and national security interests, and do not directly or indirectly benefit our adversaries."

The Foreign Military Financing funds meant for the Lebanese Armed Forces were released ahead of Thanksgiving, and lawmakers were notified of the move on Monday, two congressional staffers and an administration official told the The Associated Press.

Lebanon since mid-October has seen nationwide protests over widespread corruption and mismanagement and a newly announced tax on calls made using WhatsApp and other messaging services, forcing Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign on Oct. 29.

The protests, however, began more than a month after the State Department on Sept. 5 notified Congress that the dollars would be spent.

Lawmakers have repeatedly pressed the White House for a reason for the delay, with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelTrump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin Dozens of progressive groups endorse Joaquin Castro for Foreign Affairs chair Castro pledges to term limit himself if elected Foreign Affairs chair MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Armed Services Committee member Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Biden decides on pick for secretary of State Overnight Defense: Formal negotiations inch forward on defense bill with Confederate base name language | Senators look to block B UAE arms sales | Trump administration imposes Iran sanctions over human rights abuses MORE (D-Conn.) asking for an explanation in October.

The aid pays for U.S.-made military equipment for the Lebanese army and is meant to help counter Iran’s influence in Lebanon.

This story was updated at 9:28 a.m. Tuesday.