Biden Restarts the Flow of Millions to Palestinian Relief Program, Miss. Senator Cosponsors Bill to Stop Funding Until Reforms Made

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today announced her support for legislation to restrict U.S. monetary contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) until it is certain these funds are not supporting terrorist-affiliated groups like Hamas.

Hyde-Smith is an original cosponsor of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Accountability and Transparency Act (S.2479).  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member James Risch (R-Idaho) authored the bill.

“In his haste to undo anything associated with the previous administration, President Biden has put American taxpayers in the unacceptable position of supporting groups that work directly against the United States and its allies, namely Israel and the Jewish people,” Hyde-Smith said. “Congress is well within its rights to restrict the use of any U.S. funding until the United Nations reforms its flawed Palestinian refugee program.  This legislation deserves broad bipartisan support.”

The bill would authorize a comprehensive approach to cease U.S. contributions to the UNRWA, a successor entity, or to the U.N. regular budget for the support of UNRWA unless the Secretary of State certifies every 180 days to Congress that UNRWA meets strict accountability and transparency criteria.

In 2018, the Trump administration stopped UNRWA funding, but the Biden administration resumed support for the program—so far providing more than $280 million without securing any reforms.

The Biden administration resumed U.S. funding despite a UNRWA record of employing individuals affiliated with Hamas, an Iranian-backed, U.S. designated terrorist organization.  In addition, UNRWA schools have been used to store Hamas weapons and promote anti-Semitic education in textbooks.
In April, Hyde-Smith was among 21 Senators who sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the administration to cease assistance to UNRWA until securing critical reforms. 

Read the text of S.2479 here.