WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today sent a letter to House Appropriations Chairman Mike Rogers and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan in defense of foreign aid funding to the nation of Israel. In an interview last week with CNN, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced his support for slashing foreign aid across the board, including a zeroing out of aid to Israel.
“Ensuring a strong and secure Israel is about more than just maintaining stability in the region. It’s also about our nation’s commitment to the men and women of the region who seek peace, and a better life for their children.” Brown said. “During my most recent visit to Israel, I was again impressed with the long struggle for peace and security its people have endured. With political unrest across the Middle East, cutting aid to Israel could jeopardize the fragile peace we have worked so hard to maintain.”
For more than half a century, there has been broad bipartisan consensus that foreign aid to Israel is critical to ensuring the stability and security of this top ally. Late last year, GOP intransigence forced the Senate Democratic leadership to abandon an omnibus appropriations bill that would have sent $3 billion to Israel. The Continuing Resolution passed in December delivered $2.7 billion in foreign aid below the President’s request.
The full text of the senators’ letter to Rogers and Ryan appears below:
Dear Chairman Rogers and Chairman Ryan:
We write in light of recent statements that demonstrate the intent of certain Senators to eliminate foreign aid funding to the nation of Israel. Recently, Republican Senator Rand Paul suggested that the United States should “halt all foreign aid including its financial aid to Israel.” These remarks are alarming and aim to weaken the decades-long bipartisan consensus on U.S. support for Israel. Both Republicans and Democrats are committed to reining in the federal deficit, but assistance to Israel is not a matter of “pork barrel spending” - rather U.S. foreign aid to Israel demonstrates America’s rock-solid commitment to ensuring Israel’s right to exist.
Israel is the only democratic nation in the Middle East and one of our most trusted allies. A stable and secure Israel is strongly in our national security interest and has been a cornerstone of our foreign policy for over half-a-century. Using Congress’s bi-partisan commitment to reining in government spending as a reason to abandon Israel is unacceptable and should be immediately rejected.
At a time when U.S. foreign aid is being utilized to strengthen our partnerships around the world, particularly in the Middle East where our relationships are more important than ever, we urge you to commit to maintain full foreign aid funding to Israel. As members of the United States Senate, we will work aggressively to prevent any attempts to abandon one of our most trusted allies. We look forward to your response.