Senate Democrats Foreign Aid Plan Could Put Taxpayer Dollars in Terrorists' Pockets

Chuck Schumer (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
December 6, 2023

Senate Democrats’ plan to send aid to Israel and Ukraine would make it easier for the Palestinian government to pay families of terrorists with American tax dollars.

The $111 billion proposal, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, would provide $75 million to fight "food insecurity" and promote "reconciliation" between Israel and Palestinians. The bill states that the $75 million "may be made available notwithstanding any other provision of law that restricts assistance to foreign countries."

That provision is likely meant to circumvent the  2018 Taylor Force Act, a bipartisan law that prohibits the Palestinian Authority from receiving U.S. aid until it stops compensating the families of terrorists who attack Israel. Republicans say the provision would be a boon to Palestinians, and directly undercuts American foreign policy.

"Every Democrat who votes for this is voting to indirectly fund the Palestinian Authority’s ‘Pay for Slay’ programs," a Senate Republican aide told the Free Beacon. "It’s a slap in the face to our allies in Israel and anyone who has been a victim to radical Islamic terrorism."

The Palestinian Authority has long used its "pay-for-slay" program to funnel foreign aid to the families of terrorists killed or imprisoned by Israel. The program reportedly paid out nearly $3 million last month to the families of terrorists killed by the Israeli military following Hamas’s October attack, which left over 1,200 Israelis dead, mostly civilians. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has balked at American demands to end the "pay-for-slay" program, saying in July that "this will not happen."

The Taylor Force Act, named after an Army veteran who was murdered in 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist, dramatically reduced the flow of American aid to Palestinians. Within months of the bill’s passage, the United States had rolled back roughly $500 million in aid to the region. The Biden administration has attempted to circumvent the law, sending nearly $500 million directly to the Palestinian Authority since 2021. American victims of terrorism have filed lawsuits against the White House in response.

Even the Biden State Department expressed concern over the aid, warning in March 2021 that "there is a high risk Hamas could potentially derive unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) did not respond to a request for comment.

Negotiations over the spending package have all but broken down, with Republicans and Democrats disagreeing over a variety of its provisions. Schumer is expected to hold a vote on the bill Wednesday evening, although it is not expected to pass.

Republicans allege that immigration section of the bill is inadequate and does nothing to reform the nation’s asylum system. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said Wednesday morning he would vote against the bill without more restrictions on how Israel can use any military aid.

The package includes roughly $10.6 billion in aid for Israel, including more than $5 billion for its missile defense program. The House passed a military aid bill for the Jewish state last month, although it was defeated by Democrats who took issue with how it was financed by cuts to the Internal Revenue Service.