WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Jim Risch (R-ID), and 12 colleagues introduced the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Accountability and Transparency Act. This legislation outlines a comprehensive approach to cease U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), a successor entity, or to the U.N. regular budget for the support of UNRWA unless the Secretary of State certifies every 180 days to Congress that UNRWA meets strict accountability and transparency criteria.
“This bill ensures no taxpayer funding goes to supporting terrorists through UNRWA. This is not controversial,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“UNRWA has a long history of employing people connected to terrorist movements like Hamas, promoting anti-Semitic textbooks, and using its schools to store Hamas weapons. It is unthinkable that U.S. taxpayer dollars would be used to help fund such an organization,” said Senator Risch. “This legislation will cease U.S. contributions to UNRWA unless the administration certifies that the agency is not affiliated with U.S. designated foreign terrorist organizations and does not support anti-Semitic rhetoric. My colleagues and I will continue working to hold the administration and UNRWA accountable until consequential reforms are made.”
Cassidy and Risch are joined by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Tim Scott (R-SC), John Thune (R-SD), Mike Lee (R-UT), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Ted Budd (R-NC), and John Cornyn (R-TX). U.S. Representative Chip Roy (R-TX-21) also led 27 Republican colleagues in introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
- UNRWA has a history of employing individuals affiliated with Hamas, an Iranian-backed, U.S. designated terrorist organization. Additionally, UNRWA schools have been used to store Hamas weapons and promote anti-Semitic education in their textbooks.
- The Trump administration stopped funding UNRWA in 2018. The Biden administration restarted funding and has thus far provided more than $682 million to UNRWA without securing any reforms.