Toomey to Make Trip to Israel


U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is slated to visit the Jewish state next month.

The freshman lawmaker — who occupies the seat long held by Arlen Specter — will take part in a congressional trip organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's nonprofit, educational arm.

Toomey spoke Sunday night at AIPAC's annual Philadelphia gathering, which drew some 800 people.

Toomey spokesperson Nachama Soloveichik, said that the details of the trip, as well as the names of the other participants, haven't yet been released. He was last there in 1999.

When Toomey, a staunch fiscal conservative, served in the House from 1998 to 2004, he voted several times against foreign-aid bills. Those measures included the roughly $3 billion that the United States annually allocates to Israel for defense purposes.

In an interview last fall, Toomey said he objected to other aspects of the foreign-aid bill, not the Israel component, and suggested that aid to the Jewish state be voted on as a separate package. That idea was roundly criticized in pro-Israel circles.

Now though, the sponsor of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget appears to be unabashedly backing aid to Israel in its current form.

Last week, Toomey, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, was one of 11 GOP senators who signed a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) arguing that, as the government examines its current expenses to reduce spending and the deficit, financial assistance to America's foremost ally cannot be cut.

The letter stated that funding for Israel falls within the constitutional mandate of providing for national defense.

"We must prioritize the security of our nation and the safety of our allies," the letter read.


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