This omnibus appropriations bill funds most of the government through the end of FY 2015 (9/30/15), including the Defense Dept., the State Dept., and foreign operations. Pertinent to the Congressional Monitor are its budget restrictions, conditions, oversight mechanisms, and appropriations for direct military aid, economic support, and aid provided through U.S. government agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
After Pres. Obama signed a 2-month stopgap spending bill into law on 9/19/14 (*H. J. Res. 124 of 7/30/14), Congress set to work on an omnibus appropriations bill that would fund the government in the next fiscal year, through 9/2015. In early December 2014, just days before the 12/11 deadline was set to expire, Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress agreed on the provisions of this $1.1 b. spending package, following a general formula maintaining domestic appropriations at comparable levels with previous years and directing increased spending abroad. In order to skirt time-consuming procedural rules, congressional leaders decided to drop the text of the appropriations bill in an earlier, unrelated measure rather than introduce a brand-new bill, hence the January 2013 date of this legislation.
The funding totals and justifications listed below are drawn primarily from 2 places: the bill itself and the text of the congressional leaders’ compromise agreement in early 12/2014.
Assistance to Israel
In accordance with the 2007 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding, $3.1 b. was earmarked in foreign military financing (FMF) to Israel, with at least $815.3 m. available for Israel to purchase Israeli-made weapons and military equipment, as well as for research and development, with the funds to be disbursed no more than 30 days after the bill became law. (This is effectively a U.S. subsidy to Israel’s defense industry: in a situation unique among all recipients of U.S. military aid, Israel may spend some 25% of the U.S. aid it receives on its own domestic arms suppliers, and may also have U.S. arms it purchases built with Israeli components.)
The bill earmarked $619.814 m. for joint U.S.-Israeli cooperative programs, $2 m. less than the total authorized for FY 2015 (see *H.R. 3979 of 1/31/14 for details), of which $350.972 m. was designated for the Iron Dome missile defense system; $137.934 m. to the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (or David’s Sling) program, including $15 m. for production in the U.S.; $74.707 m. for an upper-tier component of Israeli missile defense (known as Arrow 3); and $56.201 m. for the Arrow System Improvement Program, including development of long-range, ground, and airborne threat-detection capabilities.
As in previous years, the bill allowed for certain defense items to be leased, rather than sold, to Israel (as well as to Egypt and NATO), at the president’s discretion.
An amount of $26,000, in interest and earnings from the program’s endowment, was earmarked to support the Israeli-Arab Scholarship Program’s activities, twice as much as in FY 2014.
Down from $15 m. the previous year, $10 m. was designated for resettlement in Israel of emigrants from Eastern Europe.
Finally, the bill barred U.S. contributions to the UNHRC unless participation in the council was deemed in the national interest and Israel was removed from the council’s permanent agenda.
Funding for the PA and Programs in the West Bank and Gaza
As in FY 2014 and years prior, allocations supporting the PA and programs in the West Bank in Gaza were allowed but no specific totals provided. However, the State Dept. requested $440 m. for such programs in FY 2015, and barring the implementation of any conditional restrictions or new legislation, it was expected the amount would be funded. Below is a summary of the expected breakdown of these allocations as well as new and recurring provisions restricting, conditioning, or providing oversight for the funds.