A dozen House members have moved to block Sen. Daniel K. Inouye's $8 million project to build schools in France for North African Jews.
"I am introducing legislation which would stop this expenditure," said Rep. Harris W. Fawell (R-Ill.).
Inouye (D-Hawaii) inserted the $8 million earmark to the State Department's budget for refugees, part of the $600 billion appropriations bill passed by the House and Senate in December.
Fawell, in a statement Monday, said 11 colleagues are cosponsoring the legislation, which would eliminate the earmark and turn the money over to the State Deparment's refugee bureau. U.S. officials then could use the money for the "truly needy," Fawell said.
Inouye has defended the $8 million program, saying North African Jews who live in Paris need help adjusting to their adopted country. However, the U.S. and French governments do not consider Jews from North Africa to be refugees. Many have lived in France for more than a decade.
The money is slated to go to Ozar Hatorah, a New York organization that helps Sephardic Jews from North Africa. The State Department opposes such action.
In a related matter, the American Jewish Committee intends to investigate U.S. grants to religious schools abroad, said Sam Rabinove, the legal director in New York.
"We think that public funds should not flow to religious schools," Rabinove said.