This annual bill would provide appropriations to the State Dept., foreign operations, and related programs. It is one of the main tools used by Congress to influence foreign policy. The bill includes budget appropriations for direct military aid, economic support, and aid provided through other U.S. government agencies, like USAID. Despite sequestration cuts, which were designed to affect every fiscal year from 2013–2021 and a general consensus for lower spending abroad, this bill would largely maintain funding for relevant programs from previous years.
Because the House did not pass this bill, the following summary reflects funding totals and priorities from the House subcmte. meeting on 7/24/13.
Israeli Military Support
No less than $3.1 b. in FMF would be appropriated to Israel, in accordance with the 2007 memorandum of understanding, of which, the House cmte. specified, no less than $815.3 m. would be designated for procurement in Israel. (FMF to every other country must be spent on U.S.-produced weapons, defense systems and military training. No other recipient of FMF is permitted to spend the funds on its own equipment). Within 30 days of the bill’s passage, funds must be disbursed in full into an interest-bearing account with the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. Early and full disbursal allows Israel to earn maximum interest on its funds (other FMF recipients typically receive installments throughout the fiscal year).
A $15 m. appropriation was made in 2013 but none was proposed in this bill for the Israeli Arab Scholarship Fund. However, interest and earnings accrued would be available to the fund until expended.
Excluding major defense equipment, defense articles from U.S. commercial suppliers may be made available to Israel by leasing. These leases would be available only if the president determined there was a ‘compelling’ foreign policy or national security reason.
In a perennial provision, the bill would require the secretary of state to report on contributions to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), specifically on steps taken by the organization to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.
Economic and Security Assistance for the PA, West Bank, and Gaza
Pres. Obama requested $370 m. in ESF for the PA and USAID programs in the West Bank and Gaza, identical to FY 2013 levels. The House cmte. accommodated that request. The State Dept. specified the following ‘key interventions’ for the use of those funds:
-$40 m. to increase access to drinking water
-$25 m. for capacity-building of PA ministries
-$25 m. to increase the competitiveness of businesses (particularly in tourism, the marble and stone industry, agriculture, and information technologies)
-$20 m. to distribute food to vulnerable non-refugee Palestinian families
-$10 m. to strengthen the Palestinian Ministry of Health, including increased focus on comprehensive health information systems for clinical and population-level decision-making
-$9.5 m. to improve access to and the quality of education in East Jerusalem and the West Bank
-Unspecified totals for improving transportation infrastructure
-Unspecified totals in direct budget support to the PA for the purpose of paying down commercial debt.
In addition to the annual restrictions and conditions listed below, the bill would subject aid to the Palestinians to further vetting. USAID spending in the Palestinian occupied territories must be reported and approved by Congress, and all transfers of funds to individuals or groups in the West Bank or Gaza must be audited and supervised. Each of these conditions and vetting procedures would contribute to the 3 central U.S. goals with regards to the Palestinians: meeting humanitarian needs, fostering stability and self-governance, and preventing terrorism against Israel.
Despite Pres. Obama’s request to reinstate U.S. aid for UNESCO, the House cmte. did not recommend any appropriations in this bill. In response to UNES