SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE Paul Ryan greets the crowd at Monday’s session of the AIPAC conference in Washington..
WASHINGTON – The American Israel Public Affairs Committee will oppose US President Donald Trump’s efforts to decimate the State Department’s foreign aid budget, a senior official with the lobby confirmed on Tuesday after Democratic leadership called on them for help.
The Israel advocacy organization has consistently lobbied for the preservation of foreign aid, but faces unique headwinds this year as the Trump administration proposes budget cuts to the State Department upwards of 37%.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) thanked AIPAC on Tuesday morning for “championing the foreign aid dollars that alleviate poverty, eradicate disease and promote peace.”
“AIPAC has been a champion in doing that,” Pelosi said. “Foreign aid for Israel is sacred – we know that. But the president’s budget cuts would devastate the US’s leadership in the region and around the world.”
Such cuts would not directly affect the State Department’s budget lines on Israel aid
, but House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) warned that significant cuts elsewhere might highlight Israel’s increasingly disproportionate share of assistance and “may well raise controversy” unwelcome in Israeli circles.
“A strong America in the world is very good for Israel.
That’s why I strongly support robust security assistance and missile defense funding for Israel and fiercely oppose proposals that would slash our State Department’s budget,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York). “I join AIPAC in opposing that cut.”
Democrats have long called for an increase in the foreign aid budget, but Republicans are questioning the president’s proposed cuts as well, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).
“I want to thank you and commend you for also advocating that the United States continue to fully fund foreign aid and diplomatic outreach,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) told the lobby. “In addition to the security assistance that we provide to allies like Israel, we know that when America promotes human rights and women’s rights globally, when we bring economic opportunity to where there is poverty, when we promote education over extremism, both the United States and Israel reap the benefits of greater stability and security.”
Pence vows US loyalty to Israel during AIPAC speech (credit: REUTERS)
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post
, a senior AIPAC official acknowledged their calls and said the lobby would support their efforts to preserve foreign aid, which currently stands at less than 1% of the overall budget.
“As in past years, along with security assistance for Israel, we always lobby for a robust foreign aid budget,” the official said.
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