On Friday, in one of his final acts as President of the United States, Barack Obama has released $221 million in aid money to the Palestinian Authority, according to the Associated Press.
Mere hours before President Trump was inaugurated, and as Obama was preparing to leave the White House for the final time, Congress was notified of the move by Obama Administration officials.
But this was no rogue move on the part of the outgoing President. The narrative has sadly grown to be a classic one during the last 8 years. A tale of executive action in the face of bull-headed Republican obstructionism.
You see, the Republican-controlled Congress had passed the spending just fine. But at least two members of the House of Representatives, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), put a congressional hold the flow of aid money on the grounds that the Palestinian Authority was attempting to gain entry into a number of international organizations. Mr. Royce is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Ms. Granger sits on the Appropriations Committee, which controls the flow of cash from the government to projects deemed worthy by Congress. Congressional holds such as this one are usually followed by the office of the President, but do not carry any weight to legally bind funds once the spending bill has been passed and money has been allocated.
According to the AP, it was former Secretary of State John Kerry who brought news to legislators that the money would be released after all. The aides and the official with the State Department who released this information did not have authorization to speak to the press, and were quoted anonymously.
The cash going to the Palestinian Authority is specifically intended to support humanitarian aid and political reform efforts all across the Palestinian territories. These include the Gaza strip and West Bank.
In another similar move which flew in the face of the stated agenda of the Trump administration, Obama’s cohorts also informed lawmakers that $11.25 million in additional funds would be allocated to a variety of causes that were likely to be embattled in the next four years. This money included $6 million for foreign affairs spending, $4 million which will go to climate change action programs, and $1.25 million towards U.N. affiliated organizations.
Anyone who has been following the stated agenda of the Trump administration in the last few months would know that this won’t be a move that will go over well with the incoming president and his staff. Trump has promised to be a strong ally to Israel during his term, and will likely be hosting Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu in February. Trump has also said that he intends to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move likely to anger Palestinians.
The money being allocated to climate change concerns is also likely to rub some Republicans the wrong way. And let’s not forget that Trump has stated in the past that he believes climate change is a hoax, despite a mountain of scientific evidence.
Though it’s a pleasant gesture, this parting move by the Obama White House foreshadows the fears held by many Americans. Change is coming to the U.S., and many important agendas necessary to peace and prosperity might suffer for it.
Featured image via Getty/Pool