Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Program Appropriations Act of 2016

July 9, 2015
July 9, 2015
Placed on Senate calendar

This annual bill appropriates funding for the State Dept., foreign operations, and related programs. Relevant to the Palestinians and the broader Palestinian-Israeli conflict are its provisions related to military and economic support for Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt, restrictions on aid to the Palestinians, policy on Iran, and nonlethal assistance to Syrian civilians. In the end, State Dept. and foreign operations funding for FY 2016 passed into law in an omnibus appropriations bill, *H.R. 2029 of 4/24/15, on 12/18/15. See that bill for details.

The Congressional Monitor provides summaries reflecting only those relevant provisions that are altered between early drafts and those in the bills that eventually pass into law for appropriations bills that do not pass. In this case, the major sections dealing with Israel, the Palestinians, Lebanon, and Syria were unchanged between this draft and the final bill.

The summary below reflects only the Senate Appropriations Comm.’s priorities as of 7/9/15, when this bill was introduced.

Military and Economic Support for Egypt

Total ESF and FMF appropriations were the same in this draft and the final bill, but some of the required certifications were altered. The committee draft would have made ESF to Egypt available for ‘education and economic growth programs,’ inter alia, while the final bill replaced that phrase with ‘such funds may be made available for democracy programs and for development programs in the Sinai.’ Also, before disbursal of FMF, the secretary of state would be required to certify that the Egyptian government is working to advance democracy and human rights, providing detainees due process of law (including the government’s release of all political prisoners), and conducting credible investigations into the military’s use of excessive force. The final bill, however, did not mention excessive force and instead required certification that the Egyptian government was holding the military accountable for any alleged human rights violations and providing U.S. officials regular access to monitor the expenditure of U.S. aid.

Oversight and Policy on Iran
Because the Senate Appropriations Comm.’s draft was introduced a week before Iran and the P5+1 agreed to a nuclear deal on 7/14/15, its Iran-related provisions were substantially different than those that passed into law. It would have appropriated no less than $32 m. for democracy programs in Iran; maintained the reporting requirements from *H.R. 2055 of 5/31/11; and required the secretary of state to report to Congress every month on the status of the then ongoing Iran–P5+1 negotiations.

Military and Economic Support for Jordan

Overall, this draft would have appropriated no less than $1.175 b. to Jordan, including $100 m. in U.S. contributions to the Red Sea–Dead Sea water project. The final bill upped aid to Jordan by $100 m. (all of it in FMF).

Funding and Restrictions on Relevant Government Entities and International Groups

Only 3 provisions, restrictions, and appropriations related to these entities and groups were altered between drafts as noted below.

Migration and Refugee Assistance: Unlike the final bill, the committee draft did not require the secretary of state to report to Congress on UNRWA’s finances and auditing procedures.

International Peacekeeping Activities: The committee draft would have earmarked $2.248 b. to remain available under this heading, from which U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping activities are drawn (e.g., UNIFIL and UNDOF). The final bill appropriated only $1.794 b., although it was unclear how the reduction would affect contributions to relevant programs.

Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG): The committee draft allocated $728.257 m. to the BBG to make and supervise grants for radio and television broadcasting to the Middle East; the final bill upped that amount to $734.087 m.

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