Six Senate Democrats rejected on Tuesday a deficit-driven proposal by a new Republican senator to cut United States aid to Israel.
In a letter Tuesday to the top House Republicans on the Appropriations and Budget committees, the Democrats said aid to Israel, the only democratic nation in the Middle East, is imperative. They backed the $3 billion in foreign military assistance that the U.S. provides annually to Israel.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul said last week that the nation faces a fiscal crisis and argued that the U.S. cannot give money away, even to allies, as the debt grows.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last week Paul said that “Reuters did a poll, and 71 percent of American people agree with me that when we're short of money, where we can't do the things we need to do in our country, we certainly shouldn't be shipping the money overseas.”
When asked by Blitzer if he wanted to halt an annual $3 billion that go to Israel, Paul replied affirmatively, explaining that Egypt receives almost the same amount.
"You have to ask yourself, are we funding an arms race on both sides? I have a lot of sympathy and respect for Israel as a democratic nation, as, you know, a fountain of peace and a fountain of democracy within the Middle East. But at the same time, I don't think funding both sides of the arm race, particularly when we have to borrow the money from China to send it to someone else. We just can't do it anymore. The debt is all- consuming and it threatens our well-being as a country,” Paul said.
Many pro-Israel Jewish groups condemned Paul's remarks, including the pro-Israel lobby J Street and the National Jewish Democratic Council.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey, ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, called the initiative “shocking”.
“Israel is the only democratic nation in the Middle East and one of our most stalwart allies”, Lowey said. “A stable and secure Israel is in our national security interest and has been a staple of our foreign policy for more than sixty years. Using our budget deficit as a reason to abandon Israel is inexcusable. It is unclear to me whether Rand Paul speaks for the Tea Party, the Republican Party, or simply himself”.
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