Congress slaps more restrictions on US aid
WASHINGTON: The US Congress has passed a trillion-dollar spending bill, which includes restrictions on aid to Pakistan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.
The spending bill, approved by the Senate on Saturday and by the House of Representatives on Friday, averts an impending shutdown of federal government services.
Unlike these three conflict-hit areas, Afghanistan gets all the money the administration had requested to fight America`s longest war. Congress also avoided deep cuts in foreign assistance that some Republicans had wanted.
The bill outlined the foreign aid section of the new US spending plan for fiscal year 2012, providing $42.1 billion in regular funding for the State Department and foreign aid, which is a cut of more than $6 billion from the 2011 level.
The legislation allocates $850 million for a fund to help Pakistan`s military develop counter-insurgency capabilities to fight militants within its borders. This is a slight increase from last year`s $800 million but less than the $1.1 billion President Barack Obama requested for the fund in 2012.
A defence bill Congress passed on Thursday already proposed to freeze 60 per cent of this amount, or $510 million, until the US defence secretary provides lawmakers with assurances that Pakistan is working to counter improvised explosive devices.