House set to write into law Obama-era $38 billion defense package for Israel

The thinking behind the bill is to prevent any president from reneging on the agreement.

By JTA
March 3, 2018 13:20
1 minute read.
US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

A bipartisan bill timed for AIPAC’s annual conference would codify into law the memorandum of understanding signed in 2016 by Israel and the United States guaranteeing Israel $38 billion in defense assistance over 10 years.

The bill introduced Friday is sponsored by two  Middle East policy leaders in the US House of Representatives — Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Middle East subcommittee, and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), its ranking Democrat. Their senior positions in their respective House caucuses means the bill has a high chance of passage.

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Delegates to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference starting Sunday will lobby for the bill on Tuesday.

The thinking behind the bill is to prevent any president from reneging on the agreement.

Separately, but also timed for the AIPAC conference, all 100 senators signed a letter urging the Department of Homeland Security to expedite Israel’s full membership in the Global Entry program, which facilitates passage through customs for citizens of member countries. Israel has had limited membership since 2012.

“Israel’s full membership in the Global Entry program would be a win-win-win, as it will provide a more seamless traveling experience for travelers, contribute greatly to our economy and strengthen the bond between these two great democracies,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the minority leader in the Senate.

Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and James Inhofe (R-Okla), initiated the letter.



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