Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. (AP/Carolyn Kaster) (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
Eliot Engel

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A bipartisan group of US Congress members agree that the clause preventing Israel from seeking extra funding in the new $38 billion ten-year memorandum of understanding, is likely unconstitutional.

By: Barney Breen-Portnoy/The Algemeiner

A bipartisan group of Congress members agreed during a panel discussion in New York City on Tuesday that the clause of the new $38 billion ten-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) on US military aid to Israel that prevents the Jewish state from asking Congress for extra funding is likely unconstitutional, Jewish Insider reported.

“I reject it and I will fight it,” Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel of New York — the ranking minority member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — was quoted by Jewish Insider as saying at a luncheon hosted by Agudath Israel of America at Alliance Bernstein Global Wealth Management in Manhattan.

Fellow New York Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries noted, “The Constitution was delivered and constructed to give the House of Representatives, in particular through the Ways and Means Committee, the power to initiate decisions on taxation and spending. So it is not clear to me how you could prohibit our capacity to weigh in in a way that is locked in by an executive branch agreement that we inhaled.”

Furthermore, Jeffries stated, “we as members of Congress should have the capacity to respond to an emergency circumstance, domestic or foreign, which we did the last time there was a serious conflict and we needed to provide additional military aid to Israel. I don’t think we should give that authority up.”

Other panel participants included Republican Congressmen Paul Gosar of Arizona and Randy Weber of Texas.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas said in September that President Barack Obama’s successor in the White House should nix the MOU and negotiate a new one that is more favorable to both countries.

Speaking to an Orthodox Union delegation visiting Washington, DC, Cotton called it a “constitutional affront” that the MOU included a stipulation that Israel return to the US any extra funding provided by Congress over the levels set in the deal.

“This is not an agreement that the Senate has ratified or Congress has blessed,” Cotton said. “It is an agreement between two current heads of state. And I believe that as soon as we have a new president, we should rescind that agreement and give one that is better for Israel and better for the United States.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina vowed to “not let the MOU become a binding document on Congress.”

“That would destroy the separation of powers,” Graham said. “We’ll make our own decisions about the aid.”

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