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Republican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel

Republican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel
© Greg Nash

An overwhelming majority of House lawmakers are urging the House Appropriations Committee to fully fund U.S. assistance to Israel amid debate over the fiscal 2022 budget and pushback from progressive Democrats.

Rep. Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchDemocrats fume over silence from DeSantis on Florida election Republican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel For a win on climate, let's put our best player in the game MORE (D-Fla.), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, and Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulSenate Intelligence panel working on legislation around mandatory cyber breach notification McCarthy unveils House GOP task forces, chairs Republican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel MORE (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs committee, led 328 lawmakers in a letter Thursday to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Appropriations Committee, chair Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroBattle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers On The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July House to advance appropriations bills in June, July MORE (D-Conn.) and ranking member Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerRepublican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax Biden to hold second meeting with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure MORE (R-Texas). 

They urged the leaders to fully fund the $3.8 billion in annual security assistance to Israel that was authorized in 2016 as part of a 10-year memorandum of understanding between then-President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE.

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That funding was codified into federal law in 2020 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, titled the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act (UISAAA).

Deutch and McCaul said in their letter that assistance to Israel is in the U.S. national security interest. 

“Congress is committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge and its ability to defend itself, by itself, against persistent threats. Our aid to Israel is a vital and cost-effective expenditure which advances important U.S. national security interests in a highly challenging region,” the lawmakers wrote. 

“For decades, Presidents of both parties have understood the strategic importance of providing Israel with security assistance,” they continued.   

Progressive Democrats are pushing for more oversight on U.S. security assistance to Israel.

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Rep. Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumTop general: Defense officials nearing plan for Space National Guard Republican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel Progressive lawmaker to introduce bill seeking more oversight of Israel assistance MORE (D-Minn.), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, introduced legislation last week that would prohibit U.S. assistance to Israel from being used in the detention of Palestinian children in the West Bank, destruction of Palestinian homes and property or to support annexation of Palestinian territory.

Deutch and McCaul acknowledged lawmakers' issues with some decisions made by the Israeli government, but underscored President BidenJoe BidenSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote Shining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy MORE’s commitment to providing security assistance without conditions. 

“We recognize that not every Member of Congress will agree with every policy decision of every Israeli government," they wrote. 

"However as President Biden has stated, ‘I’m not going to place conditions for the security assistance given the serious threats that Israel is facing, and this would be, I think, irresponsible.’ Reducing funding or adding conditions on security assistance would be detrimental to Israel’s ability to defend itself against all threats. We urge you to fulfill our commitments as agreed to in the 2016 MOU as codified by the UISAAA, and in accordance with all U.S. laws.”

Biden included a request to fully fund “U.S. commitments to key allies in the Middle East, including Israel and Jordan” in his discretionary budget proposal for fiscal 2022. 

The House Appropriations Committee is currently undertaking budget review hearings as it considers the budget proposal for 2022. 

Updated at 12:31 p.m.