Trump Admin Lifts Unexplained Months-Long Hold On Military Aid To Lebanon

President Donald Trump holds a news conference with Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri at the White House on July 25, 2017. (Photo credit: TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP via Getty Images)
December 2, 2019 5:42 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s administration has unfrozen the $105 million in congressionally approved military aid to Lebanon that it had been withholding since September without explanation.

According to the Associated Press and CNN, lawmakers were informed on Monday that the aid was released shortly before Thanksgiving.

Though Congress had approved the funds with support from the Department of Defense, the National Security Council and the State Department, the Office of Management and Budget refused to disburse the aid and ignored lawmakers’ questions about the delay for several months.

The mystery enshrouding the aid to Lebanon closely mirrors the administration’s unexplained freeze on military aid to Ukraine. It was later revealed that Trump had withheld the funds as he pushed the Ukrainian government to manufacture dirt on his political opponents.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Monday that he was “relieved” to hear the hold had been lifted.

“There was no legitimate security rationale to withhold funding, and lots of reasons why withholding aid would actually hurt U.S. interests,” he said in a statement. “But the administration alarmingly decided to delay these funds without explanation and did so at the worst possible time.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee member Ted Deutch (D-FL) said he and committee chair Eliot Engel (D-NY) had asked the administration about the aid delay last month.

“I’m pleased to see this critical aid finally resuming,” he tweeted.

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