Pakistan Aid from US to Continue, Houses Proposal Rejected
The US House of Representatives defeated a proposal on Thursday to prevent the Obama administration from waiving certain restrictions on aid to Pakistan deemed to be in the national security interest, The Hill reported.
Rep. Ted Poe’s (R-Texas) amendment to the $578 billion annual defense appropriations bill would block funds going toward Pakistan if it violates any conditions for aid. It failed on a vote of 114-318.
The bill contains a provision that no funds can be provided to Pakistan unless the State and Defense Departments certify it is cooperating with the US in counterterrorism efforts; not supporting terrorist activities against the US or coalition forces in Afghanistan; dismantling improvised explosive devices; preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons; issuing visas in a “timely manner” for US visitors; and working with humanitarian organizations to assist Pakistani civilians.
However, the State and Defense Departments can waive the restrictions on a case-by-case basis if they establish to Congress that providing aid to Pakistan is nonetheless vital to national security.
Poe maintained that the Pakistani government can’t be trusted, offering the circumstances of the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 as an example.
“This amendment does one simple thing. It says you meet the conditions or you get no money from the United States,” Poe said.
But Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that authored the defense spending bill, said it would be counterproductive.
“We need the cooperation of the Pakistanis. If we don’t have any, we lose insight into the actions of those who would do our country harm,” Frelinghuysen said.
The House also rejected amendments to rescind funding for the train-and-equip programs for Syrian rebels and Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State.
Final passage of the defense appropriations measure is expected Thursday, though it could potentially take place Friday depending on the number of amendments offered.
President Barack Obama signed an annual defense policy bill on December 19 that authorised US training for Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting Islamic State rebels and sets overall defense spending at nearly $578 billion, including about $64 billion for wars abroad.
The bill approves a Pentagon base budget of $496 billion, in line with Obama’s request, plus nearly $64 billion for conflicts abroad including the war in Afghanistan. It also authorizes $17.9 billion for Energy Department nuclear weapons work.
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