February 1, 2024

Ricketts Leads 26 Senators Demanding Supplemental Bill Ban U.S. Aid to UNRWA Given Hamas Ties

January 31, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Pete Ricketts, Tim Scott (R-SC), and Jim Risch (R-ID) led a group of 26 Republican senators to demand the national security supplemental bill include “an immediate and permanent prohibition” of U.S. aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell follows last week’s revelation that 12 UNRWA staff were directly involved in the October 7th attack on Israel and Wall Street Journal reporting that around 10% of UNRWA’s staff have ties to Islamic militant groups.

“Let us be crystal clear: last week’s revelation that UNRWA staff members played a part in the October 7 attacks is not an example of a few bad apples acting out of turn,” the senators wrote. “Instead, it is emblematic of an organization where no investigation or subsequent corrective measures will ever be enough to cure the rot that is so clearly endemic to its mission.”

“The United States must permanently stop all contributions to UNRWA,” the senators closed. “Senate Republicans have introduced several bills this Congress to do just that, including the UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act. As we consider ways to provide necessary assistance to Israel in its fight against Hamas terrorists, we request that any supplemental package include an immediate and permanent prohibition against U.S. contributions to UNRWA.”

In addition to Ricketts, Scott and Risch other signatories include Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ted Budd (R-NC), John Barrasso (R-WY), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), John Hoeven (R-ND), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mike Braun (R-ID), Deb Fischer (R-NE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Katie Boyd Britt (R-AL), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), John Kennedy (R-LA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Tom Cotton (R-AK).

Full text of the letter can be found below and a PDF is available HERE.



Ricketts has been calling to permanently end U.S. funding for UNRWA since shortly after the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel. The Biden administration re-started UNRWA funding that President Trump had ended. Since taking office, the Biden administration has given UNRWA upwards of $730 million.

There are various pieces of legislation to end American taxpayers’ support of UNRWA . Last year, Ricketts and Scott introduced the Stop Support for Hamas Act, which would:

  • Cut off contributions for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which has been described as “effectively a branch of Hamas;”
  • Freeze Economic Support Funds (ESF) to Gaza and the West Bank until Israel has verifiably dismantled the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza;
  • Strengthen certification requirements under the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 to ensure that no ministry, agency or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority (PA) employs members, agents or affiliates of Hamas;
  • Ensure any U.S. assistance to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Gaza and the West Bank does not benefit Hamas or any other terrorist organization; and
  • Strengthen Taylor Force Act provisions to prevent any U.S. funding that directly or indirectly benefits the PA until it ends its “pay for slay” program.