Senate panel cuts Pakistan's aid in response to doctor's conviction

Senate panel cuts Pakistan's aid in response to doctor's conviction

Senate appropriators unanimously voted Thursday to cut Pakistani aid by $33 million, or $1 million for every year a Pakistani doctor will spend in prison for helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden.

While the cut represents a small fraction of U.S. aid to Pakistan, the 30-0 vote in favor of the amendment from Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate Democrat says he will 'settle' for less aggressive gun control reform 'because that will save lives' Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead MORE (R-S.C.) highlights the tension between the two countries sparked by Wednesday's sentencing in Pakistan of Shakil Afridi on treason charges by a tribal court. 

Afridi used a vaccination drive to try to get DNA samples from people inside the compound where bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan. While he was unsuccessful, U.S. officials say he helped an intelligence program that led to the killing of bin Laden. 

“This conviction says to me that al Qaeda is viewed by the court to be Pakistan,” Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinWhat's that you smell in the Supreme Court? New variant raises questions about air travel mandates Progressive groups urge Feinstein to back filibuster carve out for voting rights or resign MORE (D-Calif.) said during the markup. “I don't know which side of the war Pakistan is on. This makes me seriously question our financial support to Pakistan.”

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Added Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Biden signs four bills aimed at helping veterans The Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid MORE (D-Vt.), “If this is cooperation, I would hate like heck to see opposition.”

And Graham called Pakistan a “schizophrenic” ally, which has suffered the worst losses at the hands of Islamic militants while at the same time harboring the Haqqani network and other groups.

He warned that Pakistan will lose “substantial funding” if an agreement can't be reached on reopening the NATO supply routes. Pakistan has asked for $5,000 per truck — up from $200 per truck before the November air strike — which the United States says is unacceptable.

“I do not expect America to sit on the sidelines and watch these negotiations become extortion,” he said.

Tensions between the United States and Pakistan were already high following the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers last year and the subsequent closing of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. 

The cut represents about 4 percent of the $800 million set aside for Pakistan next fiscal year, including $250 million in foreign military aid and another $50 million for Pakistan's counterinsurgency efforts. The original $800 million was already far below the $2.3 billion the Obama administration is requesting for Pakistan.

The funding is part of a $52.1 billion fiscal 2013 foreign aid and operations spending bill that cleared the committee 29-1, with only Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonFauci calls Ron Johnson's AIDS comment 'preposterous': 'I don't have any clue of what he's talking about' Wisconsin senators ask outsiders not to exploit parade attack 'for their own political purposes' It's time to bury ZombieCare once and for all MORE (R-Wis.) objecting.

The committee also voted 18-12 to reinstate funding for international family planning efforts, setting up a clash with the House.