Biden administration bypasses Republican hold on funding for Haiti, lawmaker says


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has decided to bypass a months-long Republican hold on millions of dollars in funding for a security mission in Haiti, one of the lawmakers who imposed the hold said on Thursday.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

“The Biden Administration’s choice to override the hold I had placed on U.S. taxpayer funding for the ill-conceived Haiti MSS (Multinational Security Support Mission) is extremely disappointing,” Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

Risch and Representative Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said in March they had put “holds” on $40 million requested for the Haiti mission by the State Department, saying they needed “a lot more details” before approving more funding.

The State Department said at the time it was engaging with Congress to get approval for the funds, seen as essential for the deployment of Kenyan police in the Caribbean nation, where spiraling gang violence has cut off food supplies and forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

Leaders of the foreign relations committees have approval power over the money, but the administration can override their holds if it decides a situation is extreme enough to warrant going ahead.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; editing by Deepa Babington)

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