The House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that could end all U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority in response to a program under which officials give financial support to the families of terrorists who are killed or imprisoned.
The Taylor Force Act, named for a former Army officer who was murdered in 2016 while traveling in Israel, would strip the Palestinian Authority of most of its U.S. foreign aid if local officials can’t certify that they stop making payments to terrorists' families, a practice that has been dubbed “pay-to-slay” by critics.
It passed easily in a voice vote Tuesday afternoon after a brief debate, a sign of how united Republicans and Democrats are on the bill.
“In Taylor's memory, we must stop sending aid money to an entity that rewards his murderer's family,” Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., who drafted the House bill, said Monday in advance of the vote.
Senate Republicans are working on a companion version of the Taylor Force Act, which has cleared the Foreign Relations Committee but is yet to receive a vote on the Senate floor. Force’s parents have been working with lawmakers for months, after they learned of a Palestinian Authority program that makes payments to the families of terrorists based on the severity of the crime and the duration of their time in an Israeli prison.
“[The PA] actually has a schedule of what you do, and how you do it, and the level of success, that is then commensurate with the level of payment to you and/or your family," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said in February. "It's an outrageous concept to be in law anywhere; it's an even more outrageous thing to be in law of an authority that we give money to.”
The legislation has drawn some criticism from terror victims who worry that modifications made during the Senate debate will defang the original proposal.
“There are officials in the State Department and certain congressional offices who are deeply pro-Palestinian,” Stephen Flatow, a lawyer whose daughter was killed in a 1995 terrorist attack, wrote in a Monday op-ed. “They started pushing for all sorts of exceptions and loopholes . . . Sometimes a flawed bill is better than no bill at all. But not always. Sometimes a bill is so deeply flawed that it is actually worse than no bill—because it will prevent any other action from being taken on the issue. This is one such bill.”
But Force’s parents remain supportive.
“Over the past year and a half we had to try to understand the world at large and exactly how this terrorism puzzle is put together,” Stuart Force, the Army officer’s father, told the Hudson Institute in November. “The big picture is pretty hard to comprehend, but with your work and your expertise I think we can make some inroads in the funding of terror.”