Shortly before the U.S.-designated terrorist group and Iranian proxy Hezbollah attacked Israel’s northern border, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives watered down a bill that would have halted U.S. funding for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which is almost controlled by Hezbollah.
The Countering Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Military Act of 2019, which was introduced last year, passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in late July that leaves the funding completely intact and requires the U.S. State Department to “issue a report detailing ways in which the United States can stop Hezbollah’s smuggling of arms along its border with Israel,” according to The Washington Free Beacon, which first reported the gutted bill.
Republican efforts to strengthen the bill were rejected by committee Democrats.
The original bill, which has a counterpart that was introduced in the U.S. Senate last year by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), would withhold 20 percent of U.S. military assistance to the LAF unless the president can certify that they are taking necessary steps to end Hezbollah and Iran’s influence over the LAF.
A Republican source told the outlet that committee chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and his staff “bear personal responsibility for emboldening Hezbollah, just as it escalated attacks against Israel and sought to murder Israeli Jews. They chose this exact moment to signal that Democrats will keep money flowing no matter what happens.”
In addition to Democrats, reportedly, the U.S. State and U.S. Defense Departments have been for continuing the aid, while many in the White House have advocated halting it.