Senators Scott, Cruz Introduce Bill to Cut Off U.S. Funding to the UN Until UNRWA is Abolished
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, was joined by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in introducing legislation to cut off all U.S. funding to the United Nations (UN) until the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is permanently shuttered and the Secretary of State can certify that no UN employees in UNRWA’s current jurisdiction support terrorism.
“We need policies that stop terrorism, not promote it,” said Senator Tim Scott. “Not a single cent of American tax dollars should go toward the beheading of innocent babies, rape of women or murder of civilians.”
UNRWA was established in 1949 to assist those who were displaced in the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. The United States has since become UNRWA’s largest individual donor. However, for decades, the UN agency has faced credible accusations of corruption, antisemitism, and support for terrorism, particularly in Gaza.
In 2018, President Trump suspended U.S. contributions to UNRWA. President Biden restarted U.S. funding to the agency in 2021, and despite attempts by lawmakers to turn the funding back off, U.S. taxpayers have provided $730 million to UNRWA in the past three years.
Last week, reports surfaced that UNRWA staff participated in Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israel on October 7, 2023, which resulted in the brutal deaths of 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals, including 35 Americans. In response, the Biden administration moved to suspend future U.S. contributions to UNRWA but did nothing to stop the flow of funds that were recently obligated to the agency.
However, UNRWA still receives some funding through the UN regular budget, nearly a quarter of which is provided by U.S. taxpayers.
Senator Scott has taken multiple steps to address this issue in the 118th Congress, including:
- Authoring the Stop Support for Hamas Act with Senator Ricketts (R-Neb.) to cut U.S. funding for UNRWA and prevent bilateral U.S. assistance from winding up in the hands of Hamas terrorists; and
- Helping to introduce the UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) to restrict UNRWA funding until the Secretary of State certifies that the agency or its successor meets strict accountability criteria.
Senator Scott has unequivocally supported Israel, especially in light of Hamas’s October 7th attack, by:
- Voting against and condemning Senator Bernie Sanders’s anti-Israel resolution;
- Championing S. Res. 417, a resolution expressing solidarity with Israel in the wake of the October 7th attack, which passed the Senate with near unanimous support;
- Voting in support of the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included numerous provisions to increase U.S. security cooperation with Israel;
- Introducing the Revoke Iranian Funding Act to permanently freeze the $6 billion released by the Biden administration to Iran and direct the Treasury Secretary to provide an accounting of all high-value Iranian assets around the world that are currently blocked by U.S. sanctions;
- Meeting with victims of Hamas and members of victims’ families, hearing first-hand about the brutality inflicted by Hamas on innocent civilians, including innocent children;
- Pushing for passage of his Solidify Iran Sanctions Act to extend sanctions on funding for Iran’s energy and weapons sectors and curtail the regime’s ability to develop its nuclear program and finance destabilizing activities;
- Before and after the attack, leading dozens of Republican senators in holding the administration to account for its dangerous Iran policy;
- Supporting the Israel Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2023, which would provide $14.3 billion of aid to Israel;
- Introducing the Antisemitism Awareness Act, directing the Department of Education to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when investigating antisemitic acts on campus; and
- Introducing the Stop Antisemitism on College Campuses Act to defund colleges and universities that enable violent antisemitism on their campuses.