GOP seeks to punish UN with funding cut after Israel vote

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  • Congressional GOP members are prepping legislation to reduce or do away with funding
  • The move was triggered by last month's Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements

(CNN)Congressional Republicans are prepping legislation to slash US funding to the United Nations, saying it's the right response following last month's Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus will meet Monday to discuss whether to move forward with efforts to reduce funding to the world body or to require Congress to reauthorize the spending every two years or it will cease.
Last month, the UN General Assembly raised the organization's 2016-2017 budget to $5.6 billion from $5.4 billion. The US is currently the largest contributor, with its funding making up 22% of the UN's budget. Japan follows at 9.68% and China at 7.92%.
    The move to slash US funding to the UN by congressional Republicans was triggered by the Obama administration's decision to abstain from a Security Council vote earlier this month that declared Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal. Without the US veto, the Security Council passed the measure.
    Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine is developing the legislation, according to Buzzfeed, which first reported the story.
    Sen. Lindsey Graham, who had lobbied members of the Security Council to oppose the settlements resolution, will lead the GOP effort in the Senate to hit the UN in its wallet.
    "I am a huge supporter of foreign aid and the UN," the South Carolina senator told CNN after the Security Council vote. "I want to do more, not less. But I can't support funding a body that singles out the only democracy in the Middle East who shares our values."
    He added, "This is a road we haven't gone down before. If you can't show the American people that international organizations can be more responsible, there is going to be a break. And I am going to lead that break."
    Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also called for cutting US funding to the UN until the vote is reversed.
    President-elect Donald Trump, who publicly called on the Obama administration to veto the resolution, expressed dismay at the UN vote on Twitter.
    Graham hopes cutting funding to the UN will give Trump more "leverage" to force change.
    "Trump is a good negotiator. Let's see if this give him some leverage," he said, adding that if the world body overturned the measure, the UN "has got a chance to reset and let the new administration restart the peace process."
    Meanwhile, the House disapproved overwhelmingly Thursday night of the UN's decision last month to condemn Israel over settlement construction.
    A resolution disapproving of the UN decision passed 342-80, with four voting present. The vote, which is non-binding, is not related to the measure congressional Republicans are prepping to slash US funding to the UN.