US developmental aid to the Palestinians, blocked since $147 million, could theoretically start flowing again today with the announcement that Rep. Kay Granger (R – TX), head of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on foreign operations, is ending her “block” on the aid.
Granger had initially blocked the aid last year to punish the Palestinian Authority for seeking UN recognition, but said today she is ending the block for “humanitarian reasons.” That doesn’t mean the aid is ever actually going to get to Palestine, however.
That’s because Granger is only one of several Congresswomen in a position to do this. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – FL) is next in line to decide to block aid to the Palestinians and is also expected to do so. Even if she didn’t, Rep. Nita Lowey (D – NY) could try to push for a block as well.
The ability of single members of Congress in key positions to block aid to certain nations has led to several odd exchanges in recent history. Notably, in August 2010 Rep. Howard Berman (D – CA) blocked all US aid to Lebanon. Apparently the Obama Administration didn’t realize this, because they again threatened to block the aid in October, even though it was already blocked. Berman lifted the ban in November, but moved to defund again in January.
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