House Votes Down Amendment To Ban Financial Assistance To Pakistan

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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The House overwhelmingly rejected an amendment attached to the 2017 defense appropriations bill banning the United States from appropriating funds made available in the act to Pakistan in an 84- 336 vote Thursday.

California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher introduced the amendment due to Pakistan’s refusal to release Dr. Shakil Afridi, the man who assisted the CIA in their capture of Osama bin Laden, from prison. 

“Unless the Pakistanis prove to us that I’m wrong by simply releasing Dr. Afridi, it is basically — they are insulting us, they are insulting the victims and the families of 9/11 and the fact is they can’t even do this,” he said in debate on the House floor Wednesday. “You know, if they can’t even do this, how do we expect them to not be supporting terrorism behind the scenes, which many of us believe the Pakistanis are guilty of?”

Some GOP members were hesitant to support the measure due to the implications it could have for the U.S. military, saying banning assistance would be contingent on the predicate for assistance.

“Pakistan has done some really terrible things, and yet they also have facilitated our military capabilities in ways that are critical to our country,” Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, who voted no on the amendment, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “So, you have to try to split the policy into areas of good and bad.”

Rep. Ted Poe of Texas introduced a similar amendment which was also shot down, yet received more support, in a 191-230 vote, which would have cut funding to the country from $900 million to $700 million.

The underlying bill provided $200 million more than the 2016 defense appropriations bill, which Poe argued could be going toward funding the Taliban despite the extra funds being aimed at helping the country fight the war in Afghanistan.

Franks said he voted for the Poe amendment as a statement he is not happy with the Pakistani government.

“I’m a big defense hawk and a big fiscal conservative, but in this case Pakistan continues to imprison the man who gave us Osama bin Laden and continue to have a major ideological bent within the middle echelons of their government that, I think, should cause all of us pause given the size and nature of their nuclear arsenal,” he said.

Afridi was charged with treason and is currently serving a 33 year sentence for help in capturing the terrorist.

The defense appropriations bill  passed in a 282-138 vote.

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