3

I have done a little preliminary research which I would like fact-checked.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 laid out the rights and limitations the government has for providing foreign aid, including military aid.

Also, the US and Israel have a Memorandum of Understanding:

In 1999, the US government signed a Memorandum of Understanding through which it committed to providing Israel with at least US$2.67 billion in military aid annually, for the following ten years; in 2009, the annual amount was raised to US$3 billion; and in 2019, the amount was raised again, now standing at a minimum of US$3.8 billion that the US is committed to providing Israel each year.

I also read that the above military aid can in part take the form of grants which Israel can purchase weapons and military supplies from the U.S. with.

I was curious, is the decision to provide foreign military financing to Israel something Congress has to vote on and approve, or does the President have the power to do that independently?

I suppose I’m interested to know if US foreign aid to Israel is something a majority in Congress voted for.

1

2 Answers 2

4

Q: I was curious, is the decision to provide foreign military financing to Israel something Congress has to vote on and approve, or does the President have the power to do that independently?
 
I suppose I’m interested to know if US foreign aid to Israel is something a majority in Congress voted for.

All spending must be approved by Congress and that includes all foreign aid. However, the president may have discretion in disbursement of the aid should circumstances warrant.

In the case of military foreign aid, there is a process by which aid requests pass into the bureaucracy and through the system to result in actual expenditures.


Understanding the exact legal procedure by which the U.S. government provides military funding to Israel?

The request is initially made to either the State Department or Department of Defense (DOD), or both depending on the aid requested.

Those departments forward the request to the president for approval. The president sends the approved request to both the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.

In Congress, the request is made into a resolution. One or both chambers produce a bill, approve it, and pass the bill to the other chamber. If both the House and Senate approve the same bill, it is forwarded to the president.

Once signed by the president, the Department of the Treasury makes the funds available to the State Department or DOD. From there, the aid is dispersed according to any conditions attached to the bill.


Foreign Assistance: An Introduction to U.S. Programs and Policy, Updated January 10, 2022

U.S. military assistance provides defense articles and equipment, military training, and other defense-related services to the national-level security forces of U.S. allies and partners. At $13.9 billion, military assistance accounted for about 29% of total U.S. foreign aid in FY2019. The Department of State administers three accounts that fund programs implemented by DOD’s Defense Security Cooperation Administration: Foreign Military Financing (FMF), International Military Education and Training (IMET), and Peacekeeping Operations (PKO). Other military assistance is funded and implemented directly by DOD.

4

Yes, military aid to Israel was voted on and approved by a majority of Congress in late April 2024 (emphasis mine):

$95.3 billion foreign aid bill passed by the House Saturday includes: $60.8 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine; $17 billion in military for Israel; $9 billion for Gaza and other war-torn regions; $8.1 billion for Taiwan.

It passed in the House of Representatives 366 to 58 with Squad members, Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), and Freedom Caucus members dissenting.

A few days later, the U.S. Senate passed the bill 79 to 18:

31 Republicans joined with 48 Democrats to pass the legislation. Two Democrats -- Sens. Jeff Merkley and Peter Welch -- as well as independent Sen. Bernie Sanders voted against the legislation along with 15 Republicans.

President Biden then signed it into law.

On 8 May 2024, President Biden said he would withhold some of this approved military aid to Israel. This is an "unprecedented act" by the Biden administration. The House will vote on a bill this coming week, on 15 May or so, to "break the administration's holds on Congressionally appropriated military aid".

Another reason why Biden's hold on these funds is unusual is due to the following law that might be broken as a result:

The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (ICA) governs the control of funds appropriated by Congress. It was enacted to reassert Congress' power of the purse and prevent the president from simply substituting their own funding decisions for those of Congress.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .