A team of Democratic senators is currently working on a modification to a significant national funding bill, aiming to ensure that military assistance provided to foreign nations adheres strictly to U.S. and international humanitarian laws. The proposed amendment references key sections of the Foreign Assistance Act, particularly focusing on the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, and the Arms Export Control Act.
The amendment is being spearheaded by Senators Chris Van Hollen (Maryland), Dick Durbin (Illinois), Tim Kaine (Virginia), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), Jeff Merkley (Oregon), Peter Welch (Vermont), Martin Heinrich (New Mexico), Tom Carper (Delaware), Ben Ray Luján (New Mexico), Bernie Sanders (Vermont), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), and Ed Markey (Massachusetts).
Key features of this amendment include a requirement for the President to report to Congress within 30 days about the recipients of U.S.-funded military aid. This report must assess if these nations comply with newly established criteria and whether their use of American-supplied weaponry aligns with the Department of Defense’s policies for minimizing civilian casualties.
Senator Tim Kaine highlighted the amendment’s focus on the adherence to international laws of war, emphasizing the protection of innocent civilians in conflict zones and ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid. The amendment aligns with the longstanding U.S. position that assistance to allies and partners comes with the expectation of compliance with international humanitarian laws.
This initiative emerges amid increased calls from progressive Democrats for stringent measures to prevent civilian casualties, especially concerning the conflict in the Middle East. They are advocating for conditions on emergency aid, particularly to Israel, in light of recent conflicts.
The proposal comes in the context of President Biden’s funding request, which includes significant military aid for Israel. This includes over $10 billion for military defense and $3.5 billion for military financing, allowing Israel to purchase weapons from the U.S.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has expressed concern about providing unconditional support to governments that may not fully respect civilian lives, underscoring the importance of attaching conditions to U.S. military aid. Similarly, Senator Van Hollen emphasized the necessity of holding all recipients of U.S. assistance to the same standards, particularly regarding adherence to U.S. law and international humanitarian norms.
The senators’ efforts reflect a growing emphasis on ensuring that U.S. foreign military aid is used in a manner consistent with American values and international standards, particularly in conflict zones where civilian lives are at risk.