Congress Eyes Crackdown on US Funding for Iran-Backed Terror Orgs

Republicans want to prevent taxpayer funds from flowing to groups that work with Hamas and Hezbollah

Hezbollah waves Hezbollah, Palestinian flags ( Manu Brabo/Getty Images)
October 26, 2023

Congressional Republicans are working on legislation that would prevent the United States from providing taxpayer funds to any international organization that contracts or cooperates with the Iranian-backed terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

The legislation would impact American funding for a slew of United Nations organizations that are known to provide resources in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Lebanon, where Hezbollah has a near-total grip on power, according to a copy of the measure, which was filed on Wednesday by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.) and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

U.S. funds would be pulled from any "international organizations"—including those at the United Nations—that "provide resources, support, cooperate, work with, employ, contract with, support, or celebrate … foreign terrorist organizations or members of specified foreign terrorist organizations," according to information about the bill provided by Tenney's office.

The legislation is one of several efforts by Congress to increase U.S. support to Israel and crack down on funding streams to organizations that support Hamas and Hezbollah. The measure is likely to gain widespread Republican backing as lawmakers reassess American aid packages to the Middle East in the wake of Hamas's slaughter of nearly 1,500 Israelis.

Dubbed the HATIKVAHH Act after Israel's national anthem, the legislation is one of the strictest reassessments of U.S. aid in recent memory. It would impact groups like the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an organization that provides aid to Palestinians and is known to use anti-Semitic materials in its classrooms. Hamas has also used UNRWA facilities to store rockets and other military equipment as part of the Iranian-backed terror group's efforts to maximize civilian casualties.

Funding for UNRWA has long been in the congressional crosshairs, and the Trump administration froze funding to the group in 2018, citing its hiring of Hamas sympathizers and promotion of anti-Semitic materials. Upon taking office, the Biden administration restarted UNRWA's funding streams as part of an effort to resume diplomacy with the Palestinian government.

UNRWA continues to use educational materials that advocate Israel's destruction and promote conspiracy theories about Jews. The agency's educational resources include "material that encourages jihad, violence, and martyrdom, promotes anti-Semitism, and promotes hate, intolerance, and lack of neutrality," according to an Israeli watchdog group.

Groups that receive U.S. funds would have to submit to a comprehensive third-party audit to receive cash, according to the bill. Additionally, the State and Treasury Departments would have to certify that every group receiving American aid dollars complies with the stringent requirements outlined in the bill.

The U.S. government would also be required to lobby its allies to cut off funding for any group deemed to run afoul of the anti-terror guidelines.