The Taylor Force Act, which would slash funding to the Palestinians until the Palestinian Authority stops payments to Palestinians killed or arrested during attacks on Israelis passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday as part of the $1.3 trillion spending bill that keeps the government from shutting down.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Democratic senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dianne Feinstein of California rejected the Senate leadership's attempt to hotline the bill - a procedural move which can fast track a popular bill to become law without a floor vote. The move compelled Senate leadership to add the bill onto the Senate's $1.3 trillion spending package, which must pass before Friday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a key backer of the bill, told the news site that he secured U.S. House of Representatives support for the bill by preserving some humanitarian cutouts, or exceptions, that will allow up to $5 million for wastewater treatment and up to $500,000 for vaccinations for children.
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Leading the demand for the humanitarian cutouts was Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the leading Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and one of the staunchest defenders of Israel in the House.
Israel’s government has publicly favored the Taylor Force Act, but Israeli security officials are said to privately fear that a cut in funding to the Palestinians could precipitate chaos.
Taylor Force was an American who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv in 2016.
Palestinian officials say that only a small portion of the targeted money goes to violent attackers, and that much of the money serves as a welfare program for Palestinians who are imprisoned by Israel, many without charges.
The State Department has for years cut funds to the Palestinians commensurate with its payment to killers and their families, although it has not revealed its formula. U.S. funding for the Palestinians currently stands at about $260 million a year. None of the money targeted goes directly to the Palestinian Authority, instead funding programs run by NGOs that assist Palestinians.
Unaffected is between $50 and $100 million dollars that annually goes to Palestinian security forces, which partner with Israel to stop terrorism in the West Bank.
The Trump administration has frozen more than half of its funding for UNRWA, the U.N. agency that administers assistance to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. UNRWA officials say the cuts could precipitate a crisis among Palestinians throughout the Middle East.