WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined a group of senators in sending a letter calling on the top Republicans on the House appropriations and budget committees to reject a call to eliminate foreign aid to Israel.
In an interview last week with CNN, Sen. Rand Paul announced his support for slashing foreign aid across the board, including a zeroing out of aid to Israel. Senator Casey joined U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to send the letter to Rep. Hal Rogers (R-TX), the chairman of the panel, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee.
"These remarks are alarming and aim to weaken the decades-long bipartisan consensus on U.S. support for Israel," the senators wrote.
"With foreign aid from the U.S. so critical to strengthening our partnerships around the world, particularly in the Middle East where our relationships are more important than ever, we urge you to maintain full foreign aid funding to Israel," the senators continued.
Senator Casey said, "Especially given the rising influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the continued saber-rattling from Iran, it should be unthinkable to cut aid for Israel." He continued, "U.S. aid to Israel is an investment in one of our strongest allies and in our own security."
For more than half a century, there has been broad bipartisan consensus that foreign aid to Israel is critical to ensuring the stability and security of this top ally. Late last year, GOP intransigence forced the Senate Democratic leadership to abandon an omnibus appropriations bill that would have sent $3 billion to Israel. The Continuing Resolution passed in December delivered $2.7 billion in foreign aid, below the President's request.
The full text of the senators' letter to Rogers and Ryan appears below.
Dear Chairman Rogers and Chairman Ryan:
We write in light of recent statements that demonstrate the intent of certain Senators to eliminate foreign aid funding to the nation of Israel. Recently, Republican Senator Rand Paul suggested that the United States should “halt all foreign aid including its financial aid to Israel.” These remarks are alarming and aim to weaken the decades-long bipartisan consensus on U.S. support for Israel. Both Republicans and Democrats are committed to reining in the federal deficit, but assistance to Israel is not a matter of “pork barrel spending” - rather U.S. foreign aid to Israel demonstrates America’s rock-solid commitment to ensuring Israel’s right to exist.
Israel is the only democratic nation in the Middle East and one of our most trusted allies. A stable and secure Israel is strongly in our national security interest and has been a cornerstone of our foreign policy for over half-a-century. Using Congress’s bi-partisan commitment to reining in government spending as a reason to abandon Israel is unacceptable and should be immediately rejected.
At a time when U.S. foreign aid is being utilized to strengthen our partnerships around the world, particularly in the Middle East where our relationships are more important than ever, we urge you to commit to maintain full foreign aid funding to Israel. As members of the United States Senate, we will work aggressively to prevent any attempts to abandon one of our most trusted allies. We look forward to your response.