This is the Senate version of the supplemental funding bill which passed into law on 6/24/09 (H. R. 2346 of 5/12/09). Largely the same as the version that passed, the bill contains three key differences:
(1) No provision providing FMF funding for Israel.
(2) The bill appropriates $345 m. for the Migration and Refugee Assistance account. While the Senate Committee on Appropriations in its report on the bill (report number 111-20) directs that $75 million be used for a few specified countries and requires the secy. of state to submit a spending plan for the funds within 45 days, there are no other restrictions on the President’s use of the funds. This would effectively remove the funding ceiling and reporting requirements for UNRWA contained in the House version and thus fully fund the president’s request for aid to the West Bank and Gaza.
(3) The Senate Committee on Appropriations in its report on the bill (111-20) directs the secy. of state to submit a report within 45 days detailing the damage to U.S. funded projects and programs in Gaza caused during Operation Cast Lead. The report is to detail the amount the United States has spent on these projects and programs, the estimated costs for their repair, damages to United Nations facilities in Gaza, and, if known, the party responsible for the damage.
Like its House companion measure, this bill would provide the supplemental funding requested by President Obama to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through FY2009. Included with the war funding is much of Obama’s request for aid to the West Bank and Gaza in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, pledged by Secy. of State Hillary Clinton at a donor’s conference in Sharm al-Shaykh on 2 March 2009. $31 m. of the $150 m. requested for Migration and Refugee Assistance was not included. Most of the aid is to be channeled to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and to U.S. programs in the West Bank in order to improve services (e.g., health, water, sanitation, and education), promote economic development and investment, and increase public confidence in PA institutions. The bill does include money for humanitarian and reconstruction aid that will bypass Hamas and be delivered directly by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), NGOs, and United Nations agencies operating in Gaza. Also included is a Foreign Military Financing grant to Israel.
The aid is appropriated to the following spending accounts:
Economic Support Fund (ESF): Would provide a total of $551 m. for the West Bank and Gaza. While the bill itself does not specify how the funds are to be spent, President Obama’s supplemental funding request and the supplemental funding justification provided to Congress by the State Department and USAID provide a breakdown of how the funds are intended to be used.
$395 m. is for the West Bank: $200 m. for cash transfer to the Palestinian Authority treasury account (the United States retains prior approval of any transactions from the account and a three-year power of audit over these funds). The remainder is for USAID programs carried out by NGOs operating in the West Bank: $93 million for institutional capacity building, education, and social services; $60 million to promote economic growth; $30 m. to support governance and rule of law; and $12 m. for humanitarian assistance.
$156 m. is for Gaza: $61 m. for immediate humanitarian and food relief; $54 m. to restore essential education and health services provided by NGOs and private organizations; $20 m. to repair household level agriculture infrastructure, increase domestic food supply, and reduce the cost of food; $6 m. for community improvement and rebuilding projects in ‘non-Hamas municipalities and communities’; and $15 m. to replenish USAID West Bank program funds that were granted to NGOs for humanitarian assistance during and immediately after Operation Cast Lead. The State Dept. and USAID funding justification states that ‘i