Various news outlets reported last November that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee, had lifted her hold on all U.S. aid going to the Palestinians. Ros-Lehtinen said she was blocking the funds until she received assurances from the Obama administration that they were in America’s national security interest. But last month the Florida congresswoman sent a letter Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying she would continue to hold $147 million because the Palestinian economy grew.
But the National Journal reports today that Clinton is bypassing Ros-Lehtinen’s hold and authorizing the aid anyway:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is allowing U.S. funds to flow to the West Bank and Gaza despite a hold by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., a rare display of executive-branch authority sure to anger the key lawmaker concerned about protecting her congressional oversight role.
A State Department official said that the letter was delivered on Tuesday to key members of Congress informing them of Clinton’s decision to move forward with the $147 million package of the fiscal year 2011 economic support funds for the Palestinian people, despite Ros-Lehtinen’s hold. Administrations generally do not disburse funding over the objections of lawmakers on relevant committees.
The State Department official told the National Journal that said that withholding the funding could “undermine the progress that has been made in recent years in building Palestinian institutions and improving stability, security, and economic prospects, which benefits Israelis and Palestinians alike.”