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US State Dept: Shutdown could hit military funding for Israel
As US government shuts down, military aid to Israel 'could be hindered', says US State Department. Obama to meet with top Congress leaders to urge reopening of government, raising US debt ceiling
A prolonged US federal government shutdown could delay military assistance to Israel and other American allies, the State Department said on Wednesday.

 

"The State Department's ability to provide military assistance to Israel and other allies in the time frame that is expected and customary could be hindered, depending on the length of the shutdown," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told a news briefing.

 

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Harf gave only the specific example of Israel, the largest recipient of US foreign military funding and a country which enjoys strong bipartisan support in the US Congress.

 

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Government shutdown: President Obama addresses military men (Video: Reuters)

 

The Obama administration had requested $3.1 billion for Israel for the 2014 fiscal year that began on Oct. 1, the day US political stalemate forced a partial shutdown of government. In 2007, the two countries agreed on a 10-year, $30-billion military aid package covering the 2009-18 fiscal years.

 

Total US foreign military funding was about $5.5 billion for more than 80 countries in 2011, according to State Department data.

 

Harf said the State Department had not had to furlough any staff as a result of the government shutdown and visa and passport offices which run on fees remained open.

 

"While there are no furloughs, it's not just business as usual," she said. "And there are programs certainly that are affected, and which all could be up and running again if Congress could get some business done."

 

Offices at the State Department that have been closed as a result of the shutdown include the Office of the Inspector General and the International Boundary and Water Commission, Harf said.

 

President Barack Obama will meet the four top leaders of Congress at the White House on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to reopen the government and raise the US debt ceiling, a White House official said.

Obama will meet with Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

 

Obama will urge the House to pass a "clean" bill to re-open the US government, the official said.

 

Boehner's office said the meeting would be the start of serious talks to bridge differences that led to government agencies closing down.

 

 

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