Senate appropriators advance $48.3B budget for State Dept., foreign aid - in line with House

WASHINGTON – Senate appropriators on Tuesday advanced a $48.3 billion budget for foreign aid and State Department work next year.

The funding would be slightly below this year’s but in line with that proposed by House appropriators.

Like the House measure, the $48.3 billion Senate budget includes conditions on Egypt support. But it differs in not tightening restrictions on Palestinian aid after formation of the recent unity government with Hamas.

The Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee adopted the budget by consensus Tuesday. The full committee examines it Thursday.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the subcommittee, said it included new funding for Ukraine and others threatened by “Russian aggression.” He said diplomatic security, health and U.N. peacekeeping are fully funded.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the U.S. must spend money to help Jordan, Lebanon and others facing refugee influxes.

The Senate measure must be reconciled with the version that the counterpart House panel approved Tuesday night on a voice vote. A crucial issue will be the tougher conditions on aid to the Palestinians.

“Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization,” said Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, chairwoman of the House subcommittee. “Funding for the Palestinians is off the table until it is clear that the unity government is committed to peace and security.”

Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey of New York said the money — some $400 million in economic and security aid provided annually — is in jeopardy.