Congressional Republicans want to slash funding to the United Nations, Lebanon, and Iraq, and cut off funds that allow the Biden administration to implement a new nuclear deal with Iran.
The Republican Study Committee, Congress’s largest conservative caucus, unveiled on Thursday its fiscal year 2023 budget proposal, a portion of which was exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The Republican budget proposal’s national security section includes landmark provisions that would significantly reshape U.S. foreign policy by nixing millions of dollars in spending in the region.
In addition to cutting foreign aid projects that Republican lawmakers say benefit Iranian-controlled militants such as Hezbollah, the RSC is moving to codify legislation that would bar the Biden administration from spending taxpayer dollars to implement a new nuclear deal with Tehran—effectively killing the deal the moment it is signed. At the same time, the budget would increase U.S. funding to Israel so that it can counter Iran and its regional terrorist proxies.
While Democrats are likely to oppose a majority of the proposals, the budget is meant to send a message to the White House that if they take a majority after the November elections, Republicans will work to undermine the administration’s foreign policy agenda.
"After two years of Joe Biden, the world is more chaotic and dangerous than ever before," said Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), RSC chair and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. "But one thing hasn’t changed since Trump was in the White House: a strong America will always make the world safer. RSC’s budget provides a blueprint for taking on Iran’s terrorist regime, Putin’s aggression, and the new threat of jihadist terrorists in Afghanistan."
The RSC wants to slash U.S. aid to "Iranian puppet regimes in the Middle East," particularly Lebanon, which is controlled by Iran’s terror proxy, Hezbollah. The United States has long propped-up the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), despite overwhelming evidence they are loyal to Hezbollah.
The Biden administration announced earlier this year it is repurposing some $67 million in aid to the LAF and giving another $16.5 to the country’s Internal Security Forces. Republicans say this tranche of cash serves as "a slush fund in a country where Hezbollah’s economic presence is endemic."
"In countering Iran, it is vital that we prohibit U.S. aid from going to Iranian puppet regimes in the Middle East," the budget states. "Lebanon’s government has come fully under Hezbollah’s control as the terrorist group has a monopoly on the use of force in the country. Accordingly, the RSC Budget supports cutting off aid for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)."
American aid to Iraq also is on the line in the Republican proposal.
The RSC wants to cut taxpayer aid to Iraq’s Ministry of Interior and its Ministry of Defense, which both work closely with militant groups tied to Iran. These are the same groups that have claimed responsibility for attacks on U.S. forces and outposts in the country, including the 2019 strike on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
"Iran and Iran-aligned militias continue to have strong ties to some elements of Iraq’s traditional security forces," the Pentagon disclosed in February as part of an inspector general report that is fueling the Republican bid to stop funding these entities.
American aid to the United Nations is also on the chopping block. Republicans want to cut funding for U.N.-operated programs in areas of Syria that are controlled by dictator Bashar al-Assad.
"Even former Obama administration ambassador to Syria Robert Ford has admitted this aid has been diverted to directly fund the brutal Assad regime, Iran’s main ally in the region," the RSC writes in its budget.
The budget proposal also includes a package of Iran sanctions that lawmakers are touting as the toughest in history. These provisions are meant to send a signal to both the Biden administration and Iran that any sanctions relief granted as part of a nuclear deal will not survive a Republican Congress.
Israel would receive a boost in U.S. funding under the RSC budget—an effort that pro-Israel Democrats are likely to support.
In order to counter Iranian terrorist groups and other Jew-hating militants, Congress would allocate increased assistance to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which destroys incoming rockets before they touch land.
"Israel continues to face threats to its existence from an emboldened Iran that continues to support Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists on its doorstep," the RSC states in the budget.