foreign aid
December 2, 2019

There's no indication of a quid-pro-quo here, but the delay in getting U.S. military aid to Lebanon still baffled some observers.

The Trump administration released more than $100 million in military assistance to Lebanon before Thanksgiving, two congressional staffers and an administration official confirmed to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The money was caught in limbo at the Office of Management and Budget for months despite the State Department alerting Congress in September that it would be spent. The reason behind the holdup remains unclear despite members of Congress pressing the White House for an explanation, but there isn't any evidence anything shady was going on. Still, David Hale, the no. 3 official in the State Department, testified in the impeachment inquiry related to the administration's decision to withhold aid to Ukraine that the Lebanon situation was also frustrating diplomats.

Not everyone in Congress loves the idea of sending aid to Lebanon, despite its approval from the national security community and the Defense Department. It's intended to help curb Iranian influence, but some, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), want to put a stop to it as long as the Tehran-backed Shiite Hezbollah movement remains part of Beirut's government. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

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