WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), the first Delaware Senator in more than four decades to serve on the critical Appropriations Committee, joined his colleagues on the Committee to approve the annual State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies (SFOPS) appropriations bill. This bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee and is now ready for consideration by the full Senate.
“I’m pleased the committee came together in a bipartisan way to approve funding for so many critical programs that strengthen global security, U.S. diplomacy, and humanitarian response efforts around the world,” said Senator Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I’m especially pleased this bill includes $3.4 billion in military assistance to help Israel meet rising security threats in the Middle East. I am confident the letter that Senator Graham and I led with signatures of 83 total Senators helped boost security funding for our unshakeable alliance with Israel. I’m also thrilled the committee provided an additional $5 million for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world’s nuclear watchdog, which is tasked with overseeing Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, maintaining a nuclear safeguards program in North Korea, and promoting nonproliferation around the world. This bill also provides funding to address the growing global crisis of wildlife trafficking that poses a serious threat to our environment and national security.”
“I look forward to working with Senator Graham to provide assistance to stabilize war-torn regions in the Middle East and Africa, particularly for refugees and Internally Displaced Persons.”
A list of Senator Coons’ priorities that were included in the annual spending bill are below:
Increased Support for Israel
Senator Coons helped secure $3.4 billion in military assistance for Israel, a $300 million increase from past years. This amount will help Israel preserve its Qualitative Military Edge and provide it with the resources required to meet the challenges posed by rising regional instability and threats such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Senator Coons recently joined Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to lead a letter to President Obama calling for the finalization of a new and enhanced Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for security assistance to Israel.
Support for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Senator Coons helped secure $94.8 million in voluntary funding—a $5 million increase above the level requested by the President—for the IAEA, the world’s nuclear watchdog, which is tasked with overseeing Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, maintaining a nuclear safeguards program in North Korea, and promoting nonproliferation around the world. In recent months, Senator Coons has sought to highlight the need to increase funding for the IAEA. He recently travelled to the IAEA’s headquarters in Vienna, where he met with agency leaders about the need for reliable, long-term resources to monitor and oversee Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal.
Support for combatting wildlife trafficking
Senator Coons helped secure $75.5 million for specific efforts to combat wildlife trafficking, $250 million for USAID biodiversity programs, $146.6 million for the Global Environment Facility, and $7 million for international conservation programs. Senator Coons introduced the END Wildlife Trafficking bill with Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that supports the ongoing work of the Presidential Task Force on Combating Wildlife Trafficking and directs the Task Force to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts. The bill passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously earlier this year and is now ready for consideration by the full Senate.
Support for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)
Senator Coons helped secure $905 million for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an independent U.S. foreign aid agency established by the U.S. in 2004, which leads the fight against global poverty. The Appropriations committee accepted significant portions of the Millennium Compacts for Regional Economic Integration Act, a bill which received broad bipartisan support in the Foreign Relations Committee. The bill and the provision in this appropriations bill would enable the MCC to address regional development challenges and enhance trans-border economic growth opportunities in the developing world.
Support for Power Africa initiative
Senator Coons helped secure $291 million for the Power Africa program. Senator Coons, the former chair of the Africa Subcommittee, played a critical role in passing the Electrify Africa bill in the Senate that was signed into law this February, legislation that builds on the success of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative. Power Africa has shown the potential of reliable power to transform schools, homes, and industries across the continent.
Support for Atrocities Prevention
The bill provides $25 million to prevent atrocities and implement the recommendations of the Atrocities Prevention Board, including with respect to the Secretary of State’s determination in March 2016 that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) “is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims [and] is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases against Sunni Muslims and Kurds and other minorities.”