Middle East/North Africa

Republican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)
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 Deutch (D-Fla.), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, and Rep. Michael McCaul (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 DeLauro (D-Conn.) and ranking member Kay Granger (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 Netanyahu.

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.

Rep. Betty McCollum (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 Biden’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.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Betty McCollum budget appropriations Israel Israeli assistance Joe Biden Kay Granger Michael McCaul Rosa DeLauro Ted Deutch UISAAA United States US-Israel relations
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