Congress looks to extend Israel's loan guarantees

US House Foreign Affairs Committee files legislation to extend $3.8 billion in guarantees until 2015.

US Congress 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
US Congress 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The top members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday filed legislation to extend Israel’s loan guarantees.
The bill, widely expected to pass, would give Israel until 2015 to use $3.8 billion in guarantees left over from the original $9b. in guarantees granted in 2003.
“We in Congress continue to stand with Israel to help safeguard its financial security,” said Howard Berman, HFAC ranking member, in a statement announcing the filing of the legislation.
“Just as we are committed to ensuring Israel’s qualitative military edge, we must do what we can to protect Israel’s economic strength so it is able to address the many security threats it currently faces.”
Even if Israel doesn’t take advantage of the loan guarantees, having the backing of the United States helps the country obtain favorable rates on money it borrows internationally, serving as an important economic boost.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, HFAC chairwoman, pointed out that the move made fiscal sense even during tough economic times because the guarantees would not cost money to the United States.
“Congress will continue to stand foursquare with Israel and provide it, upon request, with loan guarantees that provide a key cushion of support in times of need, at no cost to the American taxpayer,” she said in a statement.
The loan guarantees would come on top of more than $3b. in military assistance and joint US-Israel missile defense projects that America is slated to give Israel in the coming year.