arms arguments

House seeks to force Israel weapons transfers in State Department funding bill

The bill also maintains a ban on funding for UNRWA and require the State Department to present a plan to replace the scandal-plagued U.N. agency


An Israeli soldier checks a mobile atop a tank in a army camp near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on April 8, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The House Appropriations Committee’s draft funding bill for the State Department, released Monday, contains language seeking to force the administration to allow paused arms transfers to Israel to proceed, echoing legislation passed by the House last month.

The provision is likely to be one of several flashpoints between House and Senate lawmakers over the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs bill. The House bill also maintains a funding ban for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and again attempts to cut all funding for the regular U.N. budget. Overall, the bill cuts 11% from the 2024 budget and 19% from the administration’s budget request.

The provision on arms sales to Israel would require all withheld arms and defense services for Israel to be delivered within 15 days of the bill’s passage, and would withhold 50% of the funding allocated for the office of the secretary of state until the sales proceed.

It would also require the State Department to promptly obligate any previously appropriated funds for assistance to Israel.

The proposed bill would continue the prohibition on funding for UNRWA and requirements for strict vetting procedures for aid to the West Bank and Gaza, both of which were first enacted in response to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and revelations that UNRWA staffers had participated in that attack.

The bill would require the State Department to provide Congress with a “transition plan” for providing aid to the Middle East without any UNRWA involvement — advancing Republicans’ goal of immediately winding down and eliminating, rather than reforming, the embattled U.N. agency.

The bill again attempts to cut all $761.6 million in funding for the U.N.’s regular budget, a move that the subcommittee proposed last year but the Senate ultimately blocked. 

It would continue to condition any funding to any part of the U.N. until the State Department is able to certify that the body is taking “credible steps to combat anti-Israel bias” and implementing steps to screen staff for terrorist affiliations, and maintain a ban on funding U.N. Commission of Inquiry against Israel.

The bill adds prohibitions on funding for the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice.

It would also prohibit the administration from implementing a nuclear deal with Iran unless approved by the Senate or from removing the Houthis from the Specially Designated Global Terrorist group list. It would maintain language barring the administration from removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

The bill would provide the expected $3.3 billion in military assistance to Israel, as well as waive, for 2025 fiscal year, a cap on the size of the U.S. stockpile of military equipment in Israel, which Israel is able to tap into in emergencies.

It would cut funding for UNESCO and UN Women, and bar funding for any State Department special envoys, representatives, coordinators and advisers — including the special representative for Palestinian affairs — unless the positions are specifically authorized by Congress or the officials have received Senate confirmation.

It would maintain a ban on relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel outside of Jerusalem.

The bill also maintains previous language on limitations on funding to the Palestinian Authority and for a potential Palestinian state, for the Lebanese Armed Forces and for Saudi nuclear energy activity. And it would continue to condition funding to the United Nations Human Rights Council on certification that it is working to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.

It would provide a total of $5.9 billion for global humanitarian assistance, $2.8 billion below 2024 levels and $2.57 billion below the administration’s budget request. 

The State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee will meet on Tuesday to debate and vote on the bill. Congress may not finalize funding levels for 2025 until after the new year and the presidential inauguration.

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