Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced Senate Resolution 171 April 16. The Senate would resolve that the executive branch should expend, within fiscal year 2019, the $257.5m that Congress appropriated in 2018 for bilateral assistance to the West Bank and Gaza.
The funds would go to economic support – focused on food, essential health services, and other humanitarian goods and services; narcotics control and law enforcement; and non-proliferation, anti-terrorism, and demining programs.
The resolution notes that the State Department also failed to expend the $302.8m appropriated by Congress in 2017 for assistance to Palestine.
CRS said the resolution addresses the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, passed in 2018, which it said "has made it more difficult to provide U.S. funding to alleviate suffering in the region.
"While Congress never intended the law to affect humanitarian assistance delivered by non-government organizations, interpretations of the ATCA has led to the end of all U.S. government-funded humanitarian work in the West Bank and Gaza, including programs that help people find work, feed their families and access health care," the organization stated.
The text of the resolution said that the Palestinian Authority's interpretation of ATCA led it "to reject all forms of United States assistance, meaning that funding for organizations implementing humanitarian aid programs that provide critical services … cannot be carried out."