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budget boost

House Appropriations Committee proposes significant funding boost for antisemitism envoy

The committee suggests $2.5 million for the office — a $1 million increase — well above requests from both the White House and a bipartisan group of House members

Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA

Deborah Lipstadt, nominee to be special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, speaking at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

The House Appropriations Committee has proposed $2.5 million in funding for the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, a funding level that far exceeds both the White House’s request and a bipartisan funding request from lawmakers.

The special envoy’s office was funded at $1.5 million in 2023. The proposal, laid out in an explanatory report written by the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, would increase that level by a full $1 million. 

The White House had requested $1.7 million for the office, and a bipartisan group of 83 lawmakers had requested $2 million. The bipartisan request was backed by multiple Jewish advocacy groups.

The report also directs the secretary of state to “ensure continuity in staffing” for the office — an issue that the lawmakers and Jewish groups had raised in light of staffing shortfalls during the transition between the Trump and Biden administrations. The position is currently held by Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, whose confirmation languished for months.

“This significant increase in funding for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism will go a long way to address the tangible and growing threats faced by both the American Jewish community and Jewish communities around the world,” a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who led the $2 million funding request, said in a joint statement. “The dangerous and distributing rise in antisemitism requires unprecedented investments in the Office of the Special Envoy so that the Special Envoy has the staffing and resources it requires to accomplish its work.”  

The joint statement was signed by Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Susan Wild (D-PA), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), David Kustoff (R-TN), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and Don Bacon (R-NE).

The full Appropriations Committee will meet to discuss the bill on Wednesday.

“With antisemitism surging across the globe, the additional funds for which we advocated will increase the Special Envoy’s capacity to ensure we are leveraging all of our diplomatic tools to help improve the safety and security of at-risk Jewish communities and hold world leaders to account,” Elana Broitman, the senior vice president of public affairs for the Jewish Federations of North America, said in a statement. “Jewish Federations are grateful to see Congress taking this issue seriously and providing the necessary support to keep fighting the oldest hatred.”

“We’re pleased to see this historic increase in the budget for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, and we’re hopeful that number will stay in the final appropriations bill,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement to JI. “This funding increase will ensure the office can grow to meet the challenges of the day and have the necessary resources to carry out its important work of fighting antisemitism around the world.”

The full Appropriations Committee will meet to discuss the bill — initially released last month — on Wednesday. Further details about the funding proposals were revealed when the report was released on Tuesday.

The report includes provisions that are likely to be rejected in final budget negotiations between the House and Senate, such as cutting all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, in addition to the U.N. regular budget and the U.N. Human Rights Council. The report does not include a specific funding topline for aid to the West Bank and Gaza. 

It additionally directs the State Department to designate a specific individual to review “a significant and representative selection” of UNRWA education materials and report to Congress on the contents. It requests a separate report on UNRWA’s vetting procedures to screen for supporters of terrorism, and its compliance with its neutrality and impartiality policies.

The Appropriations Committee report pushes for additional vetting procedures related to combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, to ensure that no U.S. assistance is provided to any individual or organization that “advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, the BDS movement.”

It requests additional reporting to Congress on BDS efforts in both the public and private sectors and steps by the State Department to “discourage or end politically-motivated efforts to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel and Israeli entities.”

The report also includes $50 million for the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act; $3 million for cooperative U.S.-Israeli programs to address water, agriculture and energy challenges; and $10 million for Middle East cooperative scientific research. It would increase funding for the Israeli Arab Scholarship Program — which funds scholarships for Israeli Arabs to study in the U.S. — to $117,000, up from $91,000. 

The report further directs the administration to “ensure… flexible resources” for deepening and expanding the Abraham Accords, asks for a multiyear strategy to promote cooperation between Israel and African nations and requests annual reports to Congress on the U.S.’ work to advance the Abraham Accords.

It also requests reports examining Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon and the status of religious freedom in Egypt.

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