The US House of Representatives has approved a $17.1 billion foreign aid and export assistance-spending bill for the fiscal year beginning October 1. The bill allocates $2.2 billion in military and $480 million in economic aid for Israel and $1.3 billion in military and $575 million in economic aid for Egypt, reported Washington File.
The bill appropriates $456 million in military and economic aid for Jordan and $35 million for aid to Lebanon. For the first time, it would provide $20 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA). In approving the measure, the House rejected an attempt to include Syria on the government's list of state sponsors of terrorism ineligible to receive military training aid.
After the Senate passes its version of the bill, both chambers must then negotiate and pass a final version before sending it to US President Bush for signature or veto.
The bill grants $45 million for the new Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), which supports economic and social reform initiatives in the region. Some $600 million will fund humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan but does not include funding for reconstruction in Iraq. Lawmakers said the Bush administration is expected to propose an emergency spending bill for Iraq later this year.
This year’s foreign aid budget includes two new initiatives to fight Aids in Africa and poverty around the world. Some $1.43 billion will finance the HIV/Aids project; the first installment of a five-year $15 billion plan to combat the epidemic in Africa and the Caribbean. It also includes $800 million for the Millennium Challenge Account, a plan to target assistance to those countries striving to carry out economic and political reform. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )