Obama quietly sent $221 million to the Palestinian Authority hours before leaving office as seen in this article from Business Insider.

In the article, they stated:

At least two GOP lawmakers had placed holds on the Palestinian funds. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding.

This got me thinking, can Congress put congressional holds on any funding they see fit? Or are there specifics to as and when they can utilize this privilege?

  • I am also curious why the news tells this only 3 days afterwards – Salvador Dali Jan 24 '17 at 10:52
  • 1
    That's a question in itself. Comments are not for discussion unfortunately. – Bradley Wilson Jan 24 '17 at 10:53

Congressional holds specifically apply to foreign aid only. Here is a short excerpt from the Congressional Review Service that explains both the usage in general and in particular in this instance (emphasis added).

Congressional holds on foreign aid are not legally binding on the Administration. However, since the late 1970s/early 1980s, the Administration has generally deferred to holds placed by Members of pertinent committees as part of a process by which the executive branch consults with Congress to provide it with information or otherwise address committees’ concerns prior to obligating funds subject to a hold. In 2007 and 2008, Representative Nita Lowey, then chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, exercised holds partly in order to shape the conditions under which the United States could provide budgetary and security assistance to the West Bank-based PA following Hamas’s takeover of Gaza and its dismissal from the PA government.

Various Members of congressional committees with jurisdiction over the authorization and appropriation of U.S. aid to the Palestinians placed informal holds on the obligation of the following tranches of already-appropriated FY2011 assistance following an August 18 congressional notifications by the Obama Administration:

• $192.2 million in Economic Support Fund (ESF) project assistance for the West Bank and Gaza to be distributed through NGOs; and
• $147.6 million in International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) non-lethal assistance for PA security forces had also been subject to a hold.

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