House committee advances Taylor Force Act
WASHINGTON – The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed the Taylor Force Act on Wednesday. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) in February, would cut off U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until they cease payments to families of terrorists. The next step for the legislation is a floor wide vote at an undetermined time.
“It is unacceptable that American taxpayers are funding Palestinian terrorism — the very terrorism that took the life of an American veteran like Taylor Force,” Lamborn said.
The House bill included three exemptions. The first is for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, which was originally inserted in the Senate version. In addition, following an effort by the White House’s Jason Greenblatt, the updated legislation now allows for US assistance to Palestinian wastewater programs, even if they ‘directly benefit’ the P.A. Finally, a third exemption permits childhood vaccination programs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), who offered the amendment on vaccinations, explained, “This is a straightforward, common sense amendment to ensure that we do not cut off lifesaving immunization for vulnerable children. Children should have the same chance at survival, regardless of where they were born.”
Chairwoman of the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) opposed the exemptions, “I believe that we should not allow for exceptions or carve outs in this legislation because that flexibility will be used to once again circumvent the spirit of the law and Congressional intent,” she cautioned.
The bill was named after Taylor Force, a US veteran who was killed by a Palestinian terrorist during a study abroad program in Tel Aviv.
Some Democrats offered concern about the potential consequences of the bill. Connolly emphasized, “The wholesale defunding of the P.A. is a misguided to approach to address problems with Palestinian governance that undermine an ultimate resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The House committee also advanced two bills targeting Hamas. H.R. 2712 sanctions any foreign entity or government that supports the Palestinian terror group and specifically singles out Iran and Qatar, while H.R. 3542 imposes economic penalties on Hamas for its usage of human shields.