WASHINGTON: A House panel unveiled a bill Monday that would block US aid to Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority unless the Obama administration reassures Congress that they are cooperating in the battling terrorism.
The legislation is a direct challenge to President Barack Obama and his foreign policy authority, and comes as the House is looking at significant cuts in the annual budget for the State Department and foreign assistance. The House Foreign Affairs Committee will consider the bill authorizing the money on Wednesday. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the panel, released an initial draft on Monday.
While the House is likely to approve the bill, its prospects in the Democratic-controlled Senate are dim. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Democrat, is likely to reject many of the bill’s provisions.
The bill would bar aid to Pakistan unless the secretary of state can certify to Congress that Islamabad is “fully assisting the United States with investigating the existence of an official or unofficial support network in Pakistan for Osama bin Laden, including by providing the United States with direct access to Osama bin Laden’s relatives in Pakistan and to Osama bin Laden’s former compound in Abottabad.”
A separate spending bill likely will provide $40 billion for foreign operations next year, $9 billion less than the current amount and $11 billion less than Obama requested.