The US State Department announced on Wednesday that military assistance to Israel and other countries could be delayed if a government shutdown continued.
“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 said at a news briefing.
The Obama administration had requested $3.1 billion for Israel for the 2014 fiscal year that began on October 1, according to Reuters.
Israel is by far the largest recipient of US military funding. The total figure for US foreign military funding in 2011 was roughly $5.5 billion for more than 80 countries, according to State Department data quoted in the report.
Harf’s singling out of Israel in the briefing may well have been a shrouded battle cry to pro-Israel groups in the US, whom the administration employed last month in lobbying Congress for an authorization for the use of force against Syria.
The government shutdown has left nearly 800,000 federal employees furloughed without pay. It is estimated that the stalemate is costing the US economy about $300 million per day, according to figures cited by NBC News.
The US president has refused to negotiate with Republicans in the House of Representatives, who wish to strip funding, or at the very least postpone the implementation of parts of Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform law.