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house Bill H.R. 4868

Should the U.S. Stop Giving Money to the UN for Syrian Aid that Helps the Assad Regime?

Argument in favor

Reports have shown that the UN’s relief efforts in Syria are giving the Assad regime financial resources that keep it afloat and enable its oppression of the Syrian people. The U.S. shouldn’t be part of funding this poorly-executed aid, and should instead direct its own funds to effective humanitarian relief efforts that won’t boost the Assad regime.

JTJ's Opinion
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11/09/2019
We’re 22T in debt. Congress can’t balance the checkbook, yet they continue over taxing us, and giving it away to other countries. It’s insulting. End all foreign aid.
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B.R.'s Opinion
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11/10/2019
I'm sorry, I know this may sound harsh, but I would argue that the US should stop all foreign aide until we take care of our own problems, inclusive of paying off our debts. To begin with, we continue to see increases in taxes, which the majority can not afford, there are people starving, and there are people living on the streets. How do we justify sending financial aide to other countries paid by our citizens.
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David's Opinion
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11/10/2019
The UN is an anti-American anti-Capitalist anti-Israel organization; we must end our support for the UN and begin the process of moving it out of our country.
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Argument opposed

In places like Syria, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to avoid working with existing government bodies while also keeping relief staff safe. In light of this, the UN’s contracts with Assad-related companies and entities, while unfortunate, is understandable. The US shouldn’t penalize the UN, and by extension the Syrian people, for this reality.

KansasTamale's Opinion
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11/10/2019
Syria is very difficult because working with an existing government while also keeping relief staff safe is very delicate. The UN’s contracts with the Assad entities, is unfortunate. But is understandable & necessary. The US shouldn’t penalize the UN, and the Syrian people, AND THE KURDS WHICH TRUMP LEFT TO SYRIA TO PROTECT WHEN HE PULLED In places like Syria, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to avoid working with existing government bodies while also keeping relief staff safe. In light of this, the UN’s contracts with Assad-related companies and entities, while unfortunate, is understandable. The US shouldn’t penalize the UN, and by extension the Syrian people, for this reality. SUPPORT TROOPS OUT TO WATCH OVER OIL WELLS, a GIFT To TURKEY & PUTIN.
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jimK's Opinion
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11/10/2019
KansasTamale: Excellent response! I liked your summary.
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Brian's Opinion
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11/10/2019
I don't want to support Assad, but we can't punish the people this aid may be helping just because it's politically inconvenient. I trust that the UN would do a better job of distributing aid to people who truly need it than the corrupt and inept administration we have running this country; who can't even keep track of small children.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedOctober 28th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 4868?

This bill — the Stop UN Support for Assad Act of 2019 — would ensure that U.S. taxpayer money isn’t used to support the Assad regime in Syria. To this end, it would make it U.S. policy that no U.S. assistance should be given directly or indirectly to the Assad regime in Syria, including through United Nations (UN) organizations.

Additionally, this bill would require the Secretary of State to certify the UN programming in Syria doesn’t materially support the Assad regime and adheres to the UN’s Supplier Code of Conduct. Should the Secretary of State find that UN programming in Syria does materially support the Assad regime and/or that it doesn’t adhere to the UN’s Supplier Code of Conduct, this bill would redirect U.S. funds from Syria to USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for Syria programming.

Impact

Secretary of State; USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance; U.S. contributions to the UN; UN; UN relief efforts in Syria; Syria; and the Assad regime.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4868

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) introduced this bill to ensure U.S. funds don’t go to the Assad regime in Syria

“The U.S. has donated over $6 billion to UN operations in Syria, including over $435 million in 2018 alone. While we would like to believe our money is going to help Syrian civilians suffering under the brutality of the Assad regime, reports have indicated that this aid underwrites Assad’s killing machine and helps to solidify his grip on power. The Stop UN Support for Assad Act of 2019 will ensure that the millions we send every year to UN operations in Syria go towards funding humanitarian programs to help innocent Syrians instead of padding Assad’s bloody coffers.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) adds

“I am deeply troubled that the United Nations is allowing Assad to control how and where to spend international aid, especially by paying millions to entities controlled by the regime and its cronies. Instead, this common-sense legislation requires the UN to properly vet its partners, and if it fails to do so, would redirect U.S. funds for Syria from the UN to USAID, so that they are more carefully used in the areas that need it most. Americans deserve to know that their hard-earned tax dollars are not propping up a war criminal like Assad, nor supporting Iranian or Russian forces. It is unfortunate that the United Nations is more concerned with the appearance of reconstruction than ensuring that funds are spent appropriately.”

The Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees supports this bill. Its executive director, Bennett Gross, says: 

“In delivering humanitarian relief into war-torn Syria, MFA has seen first-hand the Assad Regime’s callous disregard for its people and country. The cruelty has been overwhelming in scale and scope. It is extremely unfortunate that the UN works with the Assad regime to send international aid, which is so often diverted to non-humanitarian purposes and to supporting the further brutalization of the innocent people of Syria. TThis legislation will get to the heart of the matter – stopping use of these funds for the Assad regime’s war effort against its own people.”

Opponents of this bill argue that it would sacrifice what little leverage the U.S. still has in Syria through aid money. The UN also argues that in places like Syria, it’s difficult to operate outside the auspices of government, especially when it has to also look to protect its staff. In 2017, the UN’s chief spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said, “We source locally and there are many places where the local economy is either state-owned or we have very limited options.”

This legislation has seven bipartisan cosponsors, including five Republicans and two Democrats. Americans for a Free Syria, Citizens for a Safe and Secure America (also a Syria advocacy group), and the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees support this legislation.


Of NoteSome reports indicate that the Assad regime routinely siphons off UN aid, using the funds to finance blood banks for its military, subsidize its fuel industry, and provide money to charities connected to the Assad family. In September 2018, Foreign Affairs reported that “a large part of the blame” for the Assad regime’s continued existence laid with the UN-led humanitarian effort in Syria. According to the article: 

“UN agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have permitted the Assad regime to take control of the $30 billion international humanitarian response, using donor funds to skirt sanctions and subsidize the government’s war effort. The bulk of these billions in diverted funds are from the same Western governments that imposed the sanctions.”

However, unlike this bill, the article didn’t suggest that Western governments should cut off funding to the UN for Syria relief efforts. Instead, it called the Syrian government’s hijacking of humanitarian relief funds a signal of the need for the UN to reform its system for providing aid.

Earlier, in 2017, it was reported that the UN paid at least $18 million to companies with close ties to Bashar al-Assad and his cronies (including some on U.S. and European Union blacklists) in 2016. According to the UN’s annual report on procurement for 2016, these expenses included: 

  • A $9.5 million bill at the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, which is co-owned by Syria’s tourism ministry;
  • Contracts for telecommunications and security awarded to regime insiders such as Assad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf, who has been on the U.S. Treasury’s blacklist since 2008 (Syriatel, which he owns, was paid $164,300 was three different UN bodies, including UNHCR and UNICEF, and Qasioun, a security firm he owns, was paid $105,043 by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine); and 
  • Money to a charity set up by Assad’s wife.

Testifying before the House’s Middle East panel in late October 2019, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told Rep. Wilson that while “[e]nsuring integrity is a constant challenge” with aid money to Syria, “it’s something we work on very closely with our UN partners.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: watchsmart via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Stop UN Support for Assad Act of 2019

Official Title

To certify that United States assistance to the United Nations for humanitarian programs in the Syrian Arab Republic is not misdirected, and for other purposes.

    We’re 22T in debt. Congress can’t balance the checkbook, yet they continue over taxing us, and giving it away to other countries. It’s insulting. End all foreign aid.
    Like (47)
    Follow
    Share
    Syria is very difficult because working with an existing government while also keeping relief staff safe is very delicate. The UN’s contracts with the Assad entities, is unfortunate. But is understandable & necessary. The US shouldn’t penalize the UN, and the Syrian people, AND THE KURDS WHICH TRUMP LEFT TO SYRIA TO PROTECT WHEN HE PULLED In places like Syria, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to avoid working with existing government bodies while also keeping relief staff safe. In light of this, the UN’s contracts with Assad-related companies and entities, while unfortunate, is understandable. The US shouldn’t penalize the UN, and by extension the Syrian people, for this reality. SUPPORT TROOPS OUT TO WATCH OVER OIL WELLS, a GIFT To TURKEY & PUTIN.
    Like (86)
    Follow
    Share
    KansasTamale: Excellent response! I liked your summary.
    Like (26)
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    I don't want to support Assad, but we can't punish the people this aid may be helping just because it's politically inconvenient. I trust that the UN would do a better job of distributing aid to people who truly need it than the corrupt and inept administration we have running this country; who can't even keep track of small children.
    Like (22)
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    Assad is a disaster. However turning our financial back on the UN would be a very bad idea. I feel we should continue to financially support the UN. We should also continue negotiations and persuasion to bring down Assad.
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    GOOD GRIEF! DO WE ALWAYS HAVE TO ACT LIKE THAT MORON IN THE WHITE HOUSE? LIKE A SPOILED ENTITLED IDIOT? WE ARE ALREADY BEHIND ON OUR UN DUES BECAUSE OF THAT IDIOT!!!
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    It's more important to help the people than it is to snub a leader.
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    UN aid is usually directed to civilian needs such as food shelter and health care.
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    Please do not stop aid money to regions of Syria controlled by the regime.
    Like (10)
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    I'm sorry, I know this may sound harsh, but I would argue that the US should stop all foreign aide until we take care of our own problems, inclusive of paying off our debts. To begin with, we continue to see increases in taxes, which the majority can not afford, there are people starving, and there are people living on the streets. How do we justify sending financial aide to other countries paid by our citizens.
    Like (10)
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    The real budget we need to be concerned about is the Pentagon budget if you are worried about money getting into the wrong hands investigate The Pentagon! It cannot account for TRILLIONS OF FUNDS. I doubt seriously that the UN is backing Assad. This could be fake news.
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    The UN is an anti-American anti-Capitalist anti-Israel organization; we must end our support for the UN and begin the process of moving it out of our country.
    Like (7)
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    Stop giving money to the UN to give to Assad and Syria!!! Why are we wasting our taxes on him!
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    If you think the UN isn’t corrupt, your entirely wrong. If you think the UN actually cares about human rights, you’re entirely wrong. The UN is, is for the most part, a complete waste of time and effort for our country. That’s not to say that we should leave, but certainly opens the discussion of defunding. Burundi, Egypt, Rwanda, Cuba, Venezuela, China, India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All these countries have a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, and all are blatant violators of human rights. Do you really think helping the innocent Syrian people is in the UN’s best interest? To the climate fighters out there: the United Nations Environmental Program predicted in 2005 that climate change will create up to 50 million environmental refugees by the end 2015. Guess what never happened? Exactly what they predicted. For years the UN and the UNEP have been responsible for fear mongering in a climate catastrophe, but their predictions have not only been wrong, but not even close to what was said. The UN brings the climate movement down. But I’ll ask, if predictions since the 1950s, through the 2000s have all be completely false, what can we actually believe from climate activists and the UN? The incompetence of the UN causes us to directly fund terrorists and the enemy with our tax dollars. The Bashar al-Assad regime of Syria is similar to that of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The UN created an Oil-for-Food Program, which aimed to allow Iraq to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian necessities for Iraqi citizens. Years later, it proved the be a complete scam which handed Hussein’s Iraq $21B and the innocent Iraqi public nothing. What about most recently, famine during the Somalian civil war? Once again, the incompetence of the UN is directly funding terrorists. As CNN reported, “...al-Shabaab is making millions of dollars each year by exploiting foreign aid money sent to Somalia by the very western nations who are trying to eliminate the terror group.” That’s your tax dollars, funding terrorists. What about Israel and Palestine? The UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, hurts Palestinians. The UNRWA creates a culture of dependency, a welfare state, similar to what we’ve seen in America with our black communities, which drives a youth bulge in Gaza. As professor Gunnar Heinsohn notes, “The reason for Gaza's endless youth bulge is that a large majority of its population does not have to provide for its offspring. Most babies are fed, clothed, vaccinated and educated by UNRWA.” Therefore, young Gazan men and their families are only focused on one thing—war. They are not focused on building an economy and being independent by financing their own food, clothing, and medicines. Instead, they are wound up to kill their brother and sisters in Israel. As Hamas is slowly now taking over the West Bank, my fear is the western world and the UN will cause this problem for all of Palestine. Eventually, we must say to Palestine they must care for their children themselves, without the UN and UNRWA. This would force Palestinians to focus on building an economy instead of freeing them up to wage war. Not to mention, Hamas strategically fires missiles from schools, hospitals, mosques, and cemeteries in Gaza in hopes Israel will not retaliate. Those schools and hospitals are UNRWA built. Our tax dollars are paying for excuses which Hamas uses, putting Palestines in danger as they’re now being used as human shields. For the most part, the concern is sincere but the execution is awful. The only reason I’ve seen people oppose this bill is because the Syrian people desperately need this money. They do, but they simply won’t get it while being distributed by the UN. The UN has no credibility and only creates more problems while growing others. NO ONE should trust the UN in delivering humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. We must do it, but in a different way. Not through the UN, and never through the UN again.
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    With Trump as president can we even trust it will get there? Mick admitted this administration doesn’t think we have three equal branches of government. And republicans are afraid of dictator Donnie.
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    The United States is already behind in it’s obligations to the UN. This is just another excuse to not contribute to the work of that international body. The UN has been a vital factor in diplomacy in many areas of the world and been a positive influence for peace. Current efforts to subvert the work of the UN are just another from of destruction Trump and the Republicans are choosing to unleash. The bullying tactics the United States now uses in place of diplomacy will come back to us in ways we do not know nor want.
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    I’m not crazy about Assad either but the people need help.
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    If you give a gift or charity money to someone it’s up to them how they think it should be best spent. I think considering the shot show the dear leader has orchestrated in Syria we should let the experts handle disbursements in the most effective way possible. This reeks more of nit wanting aid to go to Muslims and Arabs if you ask me.
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    Poorly written legislation, rewrite and resubmit. Give money to people on the ground not governments and their entities.
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    Assad needs to be tried for war crimes and killed. Trump needs to be tried for treason, war crimes, theft, and so many other things. He needs to be stripped of his last nickel and thrown in prison. The jerk has gotten away all his life with criminal behavior. It’s time to pay for those crimes!
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