Reviving an old fight over U.S. funding for the United Nations, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, is calling on the federal government to put more conditions on the funding the U.S. government gives to the world body.
Mr. Rubio introduced a bill Wednesday that would make all U.S. contributions to the U.N. voluntary, cap the contributions to the body and create an inspector general responsible for tracking taxpayer funds.
Mr. Rubio’s bill also would withhold funding from any U.N. entity that recognizes the Palestinian Authority as a member state before it negotiates a peace deal with Israel.
“The U.S. should not continue funding the lion’s share of the U.N.’s budget without, at a minimum, several key reforms to ensure greater accountability and transparency,” Mr. Rubio said. “Nearly 70 years ago, the United Nations was founded to maintain the peace after the end of World War II. While at some times throughout its history the U.N. has played an effective role in global affairs, today it is plagued by ineffective leadership, excessive bureaucracy, ethical abuses, misspending and transparency problems.”
The proposal is sure to expose deep divisions on Capitol Hill over the usefulness of the international body and whether Congress should pay its dues without any strings attached. The U.S. is — and has been — the largest financial support of the U.N., paying about 22 percent of the regular budget and 27 percent of its peacekeeping budget.
President Obama’s 2014 budget request includes $617 million for the U.N.’s regular budget and $2.1 billion for peacekeeping budget.
Critics of the U.N. have argued that it has been riddled with problems, citing abuses ranging from the Iraq oil-for-food program to accusations of sexual misconduct by U.N. peacekeepers in Africa. They also have said the Human Rights Council has shown an anti-Israel sentiment and includes countries that violate the rights they vow to protect.
Last fall, the U.N. General Assembly voted to make Palestine a nonmember observer state — a move that was viewed as a blow to the United States and Israel.
Mr. Rubio’s measure also blocks funding for “activities related to” the Goldstone Report, a U.N.-fact finding mission that investigated the 2008-2009 war in Gaza between Hamas and Israel and accused both sides of targeting civilians, which outraged Israel.
The bill bars U.S. funds to any U.N. group that works with non-governmental organizations that accept anti-Semitism.
It also aims to ensure that U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism do not obtain nuclear assistance and mandates that the White House Office of Management and Budget provide annual reports on the level of U.S. assistance to the international body.
“By bringing greater accountability and budget transparency, the U.S. will be able to ensure that American taxpayer dollars going to the U.N. are actually advancing our national interest,” Mr. Rubio said.