Van Hollen, Durbin, Kaine, Schatz & Colleagues File Amendment Requiring the Use of U.S. Supplemental Aid Comply with U.S., International Law
Amendment has support of 19 Senators
U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dick Durbin, (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) along with 15 of their colleagues are filing their amendment to require that the weapons received by any country under the proposed national security supplemental are used in accordance with U.S. law, international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict. The amendment is supported by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
The Senators’ amendment also requires that the president report to the Congress on whether countries receiving military equipment paid for by American taxpayers meet that test and whether the use of U.S-supplied weapons comports with established presidential directives on arms transfers and Defense Department policies for reducing harm to civilians. And it would buttress current law that prohibits U.S. security assistance to any country that prevents or restricts U.S. humanitarian assistance to those in need, subject to a presidential waiver. The amendment does not apply to funds for air defense systems or other systems that the president determines will be used for strictly defensive purposes.
“American taxpayer dollars should be used in line with our values and our interests. This amendment requires that all recipients of U.S. military assistance in the national security supplemental use our support in accordance with U.S. law and international humanitarian law and that they cooperate fully with our efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance. It also puts in place the reporting requirements necessary to track these measures and ensure transparency and accountability. These provisions make critical improvements to the supplemental, which is why I’ll be insisting on a vote,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“The U.S. is an indispensable country in helping allied nations in times of conflict,” said Senator Durbin. “With any such assistance, including supplemental packages, we have a responsibility to ensure the aid follows U.S. and international law. With this amendment, we are reinforcing that key point and our American values.”
“This amendment makes clear that support we provide our allies to defend themselves must be used in accordance with U.S. and international law. This includes taking measures to protect innocent civilians caught in conflict zones. The American people should feel confident that we are providing aid consistent with American values,” said Senator Kaine.
“Whenever we approve federal spending – whether it’s for things like public housing and highway repairs or our own Defense Department’s programs – we require detailed plans on exactly how the money will be used. We also expect to receive some form of reporting on it afterward. It should be no different for assistance funding we provide to allies around the world, including Israel. It’s our responsibility to make sure the funding and weapons we provide are used in a manner that’s consistent with international humanitarian law and American values,” said Senator Schatz.
“U.S. military aid always includes conditions, and there is no exception, even for our allies,” said Senator Warren. “This amendment is necessary to ensure that we as a nation are putting our values first and complying with international law.”
“No country receiving U.S. assistance should be exempt from requirements that it adheres to international humanitarian law,” said Senator Merkley. “We should undertake serious efforts to strengthen Congress’ oversight of aid to ensure it is being used in the interest of our national security and aligns with our values.”
“It serves U.S. interests for military assistance to be used in accordance with international humanitarian law, and for those receiving assistance to be fully cooperative in the delivery of humanitarian aid. Taxpayer dollars should be spent enhancing American security and creating global stability, and it’s Congress’s obligation to make this happen,” said Sen. Welch.
“As we continue to stand by Israel’s right to defend itself, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting innocent civilians. That means ensuring our weapons are used only in accordance with U.S. law, international humanitarian law, and the law of armed conflict. I’m introducing this amendment to the National Security Supplemental to hold our allies accountable for using the weapons and resources we provide them, and give the American people needed transparency on how Israel is deploying U.S. aid in Gaza,” said Senator Heinrich.
“We must hold U.S. military assistance to the highest standard and ensure that any assistance provided to our partners is used in accordance with the law – particularly U.S. law and international humanitarian law,” said Senator Carper. “This amendment reiterates that commitment, and supports our efforts to continue working with those defending democracy around the world.”
“This amendment will help to ensure that American military aid is being used in accordance with international humanitarian law and aligns with our country’s values,” said Senator Hirono. “As we continue to deliver assistance to our allies, it is critical that transparency and accountability are prioritized.”
“It is imperative that all assistance to Israel abide by U.S. and international law, prioritize the protection of civilians, assure the provision of desperately needed humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza, and align with a long-term vision for peace, security, and two-state diplomatic solution. I thank Senator Van Hollen and my colleagues for working together on this measure to ensure all military aid to countries within the supplemental package adheres to well-established, existing U.S. and international law and to require reporting to Congress on the use of such aid,” said Senator Markey.
“When the United States provides security assistance to our allies, that assistance should only be used in accordance with U.S. and international humanitarian law, including the obligation to minimize harm to civilians and facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid. This amendment requires the transparency and accountability the United States expects and deserves from our friends and allies receiving security assistance,” said Senator Smith.
“As a pastor I have a profound reverence for life, and as we continue working with our allies to navigate wars in the Middle East and beyond, it is imperative that the United States ensures any country receiving our security assistance is using those resources in a way that’s consistent with American values and international law,” said Senator Reverend Warnock.
“We have a responsibility to make sure civilians and children are never the targets of war and humanitarian assistance is never blocked,” said Senator Butler. “Our partners and allies deserve America’s unwavering support, and it is also true that we must hold those nations accountable for what they choose to do with that support. Senator Van Hollen’s amendment to the National Security and Supplemental Appropriations Act affirms our values and reinforces America’s commitment to human rights and humanitarian aid in times of conflict.”
“The American people expect that when we use taxpayer dollars, it is accounted for and used in line with our values,” said Senator Baldwin. “As we work to help our allies defend themselves, it’s our responsibility to make sure our aid is used in accordance with international humanitarian law – just as our country regularly does.”
“Congress has an obligation to oversee how foreign governments are using American weapons. I thank Senator Van Hollen for his leadership crafting this provision to strengthen Congressional oversight of U.S. security assistance. U.S. aid must be used consistent with our national interests and our laws,” said Senator Ossoff.
“The United States has a legal obligation to ensure the security assistance we send to our allies and partners abroad is used in accordance with existing U.S. law, international law, and the law of armed conflict. This amendment reaffirms those fundamental principles,” said Senator Chris Murphy.
The Senators’ amendment:
- Requires that the weapons received by any country under this bill are used in accordance with U.S. law, international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict.
- Requires that the president obtain assurances that any country receiving weapons through this bill cooperate fully with U.S.-supported efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, subject to a presidential waiver.
- Requires that the president report to the Congress within 30 days on whether each country receiving U.S. security assistance through this bill is:
- Using U.S.-funded military equipment in accordance with:
- Their intended purposes and U.S. end-use monitoring programs;
- international humanitarian law, the law of armed conflict, and U.S. law;
- the President’s 2023 Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy and the Defense Department’s Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMR-AP);
- Fully cooperating with U.S. efforts and U.S.-supported international efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians
- Clarifies that these provisions do not apply to funds for air defense systems or other systems that the president determines will be used for strictly defensive purposes.
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