If you have been following Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s career, you know that he has long advocated for an end to all U.S. foreign aid, including aid to Israel. This is not a fringe position. Even America’s strongest pro-Israel supporters have called for an end to U.S. aid. Elliot Abrams explained his opinion on the subject:
My view is over time it would be healthy for the relationship if the aid diminished. Israel should be less dependent on American financial assistance and should become the kind of ally that we have in Australia, Canada, or the United Kingdom: an intimate military relationship and alliance, but no military aid.
This is identical to Senator’s Paul’s view. Noah Pollack, Naftali Bennett, and even Benjamin Netanyahu agree. It is certainly not as his critics like to claim, an “anti-Israel” position.
In Iowa this summer, Yahoo News Washington correspondent Chris Moody asked Paul if he still supported ending all U.S. foreign aid, including aid to Israel . This was Paul’s response:
“I haven’t really proposed that in the past. We’ve never had a legislative proposal to do that. You can mistake my position, but then I’ll answer the question. That has not been a position — a legislative position — we have introduced to phase out or get rid of Israel’s aid. That’s the answer to that question. Israel has always been a strong ally of ours and I appreciate that. I voted just this week to give money — more money — to the Iron Dome, so don’t mischaracterize my position on Israel.”
In other words, Paul denies making a “legislative” proposal to end foreign aid to Israel. Moody claims Paul’s denial is untrue, citing a budget resolution Senator Paul proposed in 2011.
In 2011, the newly elected Paul proposed a budget that would have cut $500 billion from the federal budget in part by cutting off foreign aid to all countries, including financial grants to Israel.
Dave Weigel at Slate echoes Moody’s view, and likewise claims that Paul “introduced a bill that would have zeroed out aid to Israel.” This is simply wrong. Paul never introduced a bill that would have ended all foreign aid. On May 19, 2011, Paul did introduce Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 20 of the 112th Congress. Nothing in the bill even mentioned foreign aid. However, Paul issued a press release the following day and attached a proposed copy of his FY2012 budget. The budget Paul proposed along with his S. Con. Res. 20 did not call for all foreign aid to be cut. Instead, his budget proposed to “freeze foreign aid funding at $5 billion.” This amount would easily cover the $3 billion of annual aid to Israel, and is fully consistent with Paul’s position that any cuts in U.S. aid to Israel should be incremental and then only after stopping aid to more hostile nations, e.g. Egypt and Pakistan.
Paul does not deny supporting a complete end to all foreign aid in his public statements and interviews on the subject. However, Paul is correct that he has never submitted a legislative proposal to end U.S. foreign aid to Israel.