As we’re sure you’re aware, at the last minute, Congress advanced a stopgap funding measure over the weekend. We take no position on such actions, but we’ll discuss the implications of the vote, as well as one you may not have heard about in the mainstream media, in this week’s edition of the Action Update.

Government Shut Down Avoided (for now)

After much wrangling and drama, Congress passed a measure over the weekend that will keep all elements of the government funded at their current levels for the next 45 days. This vote means that for at least the next month-and-a-half, the federal government will continue to function, including paying our troops as well as the nearly 3 million government civilian employees upon which the country relies. At the conclusion of the 45 days, Congress will have needed to either advance Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills, advance an omnibus bill, or pass another continuing resolution to keep the government open until they can agree upon spending bills for the next fiscal year.

In terms of CUFI’s issues, the stopgap measure means that, again, for at least the next month-and-a-half, vital U.S. military assistance to Israel will flow.

Progress, but no Victory (yet) on LAF

Longtime CUFI members will recall that for the past four years, we have made an effort to educate Congress on the problems of U.S. taxpayer dollars funding the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). We’ve written op-eds about, and even devoted a full Action Update to the topic back in July of 2020. Here’s a bit of what we noted back then:

Unconditional aid to the LAF, “continues despite LAF coordination with and infiltration by Hezbollah… US taxpayer dollars are going to a military that is led by a government allied with Hezbollah, commanders coordinating with the terrorist organization, and an army comprised of many rank-and-file soldiers in league with the world’s most strategically relevant terrorist group,” we wrote three years ago.

Well, some in Congress have finally decided to take note. During the aforementioned budget negotiations, there was a measure brought to the floor as part of the consideration of the FY 24 State-Foreign Operations budget, which would have ended our ridiculous LAF policy - which boils down to throwing good money after bad. Unfortunately, the vote failed, but for the first time, there was a specific recorded vote on the matter, and a majority of the House GOP voted to completely cut off U.S. assistance to the LAF.

As such, this vote constitutes real progress in changing Washington’s relevant policy, but much more must be done. Since we set out to stop this funding several years ago, Iran has become stronger and more emboldened, and as a result, so have their proxies – in particular Hezbollah.

In fact, there are three news items announced very recently that once again shine a bright light on America’s failed Iran policy.

First, Iran successfully launched a satellite into space. Such launches use ballistic missiles, and, as such, this launch should be viewed in that context, not traditional space exploration or anything of the kind.

Second, the U.S. announced that Iran can produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb in as little as two weeks, but thus far has not done so (that we know of).

Finally, a four-way arms deal with Iran at the center of the agreement is currently in the works. The deal would see Hezbollah provide weapons to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Iran provide new weapons to Hezbollah, and Iran sell weapons to Moscow (which has a vested interest in Assad remaining in power).

As tricky as each of these issues is individually, they are even more daunting when taken together. The sum, it turns out, remains greater than the whole of the parts. Nonetheless, there is no reason the U.S. cannot effectively address everything Iran, Russia and the rest of the pariah states are throwing at the West. But for that to happen President Biden must do two things: 1) Cease rejecting the simple concept that one achieves “peace through strength” and 2) stop funding our adversaries and the allies of our adversaries– whether it be the Iranians via a $6B ransom payment or Iranian proxy groups such as Hezbollah via U.S. support for its auxiliary force – the LAF.


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