Bush Israel US flags 298.
(photo credit: AP)
The US Senate passed its version of the foreign aid bill late Thursday, which includes $2.4 billion for Israel and $1.3 billion for Egypt.
The bill doesn't include the $200 million restriction on Egyptian military aid in the House bill, which would be conditional on the country making progress in human rights and ending weapons smuggling into Gaza, and will be one of the issues a conference committee has to address before sending a final draft to the White House.
US President George W. Bush has threatened to veto the legislation, in line with Republican concerns about the bill's funding for organizations that provide abortions overseas. Twelve senators, all of them Republican, voted against the bill, while 81 voted for it.
The Republican Jewish Coalition explained the negative votes as stemming from concerns over the abortion issue. In the House's 241-178 vote in June, 164 Republican voted against the measure on the same grounds, though some also expressed reservations about the cost of the bill.
Democrats seized on the votes against the House draft to attack Republican commitment to funding for Israel.
In a statement issued Friday, the National Jewish Democratic Coalition urged House Republicans to follow the lead of their Senate colleagues and vote in favor of the bill once it comes out of the conference committee.
"Here's hoping that the House Republican leaders are swayed by public pressure and reconsider their opposition to foreign aid," said NJDC Executive Director Ira Forman.
Forman on Friday also issued a rare criticism of a Democratic representative, Jim Moran of Virginia.
Moran reportedly told Tikkun Magazine that the pro-Israel lobby pushed for the war in Iraq, saying, "AIPAC is the most powerful lobby and has pushed this war from the beginning â€¦ because they are so well organized, and their members are extraordinarily powerful - most of them are quite wealthy - they have been able to exert power."
Forman called on Moran to retract the "irresponsible" and "dangerous" false statements.
The RJC, for its part, charged that the Democrats' "calculated decision" to insert the family planning provision for political purposes was the only reason for the negative votes.
According to RJC spokeswoman Suzanne Kurtz, "Had that not been the case, there would have been no substantial Republican opposition."
The funding for Israel, which is the same in both bills, is the last installment of a 10-year plan and is to be used for military spending as well as $40 million for the resettlement of refugees.