WASHINGTON (WJLA) - On Monday, the White House formally notified Congress of President Obama's airstrikes order in Iraq. Humanitarian aid to Iraq does cost taxpayer dollars, but given the resurgence of terrorism inside Iraq, some people question whether it's worth it.
Countries around the world are sending humanitarian aid to Iraq in response to violence by Islamic militants that is claiming lives and destroying the country. The United States has a goal of helping end the violence and, in the words of Secretary of State John Kerry, "to provide significant humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq at this very difficult time."
The State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) plan to spend some $573 million of taxpayer money by the year's end for things not related to the military. That money would fund things like health, education, and humanitarian assistance in Iraq. The program is important enough for the State Department to promote in Arabic, with President Obama's picture, on its website.
All of this has caught the attention of government waste hawks, like the National Taxpayers Union. The organization issued a statement saying, "Even the best intentioned contracts can end in failure due to poor oversight, unforeseen circumstances, or even corruption."
There are other non-military programs spending taxpayer dollars. The State Department issues what it calls diplomacy grants in Iraq. The agency's website says the program is designed to foster understanding between the U.S. and Iraq. Eligible groups can apply for such things as empowering women and youth, countering violent extremism and fostering cultural ties.
The U.S. Embassy website that promotes the diplomacy grants says most of them will be $100,000 or less. But there are taxpayers who didn't know that program, or others related to Iraq, even existed.
"Though my heart, you know, feels for what's taking place, you know, there in [Iraq], I do feel like the tax dollars would be better served here," said Byron Ransom.