Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is delaying the conclusion of a US/Israel defense deal that would increase American aid to Israel by more than $300 million to which the White House has agreed. The Obama administration has spent more than one year in negotiating the complex terms of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Jewish State that would hike military aid from $3.1 billion to $3.3 billion a year in 2018.
Graham does not see any reason why Congress should accept the terms negotiated by the Obama administration without legislative consent.
"I'm offended that the administration would try to take over the appropriations process," Graham told The Washington Post recently. "We can't have the executive branch dictating what the legislative branch will do for a decade based on an agreement we are not a party to."
A White House official told the Washington Post that the Obama administration is "prepared to sign" the agreement on its own terms. The official said that the MOU "would include both foreign military financing (FMF) funds and an unprecedented multi-year commitment of missile defense funding, and would constitute the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in US history."
"We also remain committed to upholding the funding levels agreed by the United States and Israel in the current MOU, including $3.1 billion in FMF funds in Fiscal Year 2017," the official said.
A markup of the deal was passed in the Senate subcommittee on foreign affairs funding, which Graham chairs, in June of this year. However, according to the Jerusalem Post, Graham was not part of the negotiation. Graham's proposal would increase that $3.1 billion to $3.4 billion.
While Graham has received no complaints from the White House, he recently fielded a call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is prepared to sign the agreement. "The Israeli prime minister told me the administration is refusing to sign the MOU until I agree to change my appropriation markup back to $3.1 billion," Graham said. "I said, 'Tell the administration to go F themselves.'" The South Carolinian senator asked Netanyahu to say that Israel is in no need of the additional funds appropriated in the markup bill. Reportedly, Netanyahu refused.
The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which lobbies Congress on issues related to Israel, had no part in the affair.
Graham's proposal would increase the level of funding from $3.1 billion to $3.4 billion.
A likely opponent of Graham in this matter may be House Speaker Paul Ryan. Back in April, Ryan said that he did not know “what the numbers are going to be” and that the issue was between Obama and the Israelis.