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Kerry: Sequestration would cut funds to Israel, Jordan, Egypt

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sequestration could lead to cuts in military assistance to Israel, Jordan and Egypt, Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress.

"Under sequestration, our security assistance accounts would face an approximately $500 million reduction, undermining our efforts around the world to prevent conflict and protect our national security," Kerry wrote in a Feb. 11 letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "An over $300 million cut to our Foreign Military Financing account could lead to reductions in military assistance to Israel, Jordan and Egypt, undermining our commitment to their security at such a volatile time."

Sequestration, which kicks in March 1, refers to congressionally mandated across the board cuts of about 8.5 percent, designed as an incentive to get Congress and the White House to agree on a budget.

However, an impasse between Obama and his Democratic allies in the Senate and the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives means that the deadline is likely to pass without an agreement. It is not clear which cuts would come first.

Jordan and Egypt receive military assistance as part of their peace agreements with Israel.

The Obama administration has defended maintaining the assistance to Egypt, noting that it continues to abide by the peace treaty despite its new Israel-hostile Islamist government.

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