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  /  News   /  Where the US spends the most on foreign aid

Where the US spends the most on foreign aid

(The Hill) — Debates over U.S. aid to Israel and Ukraine have dominated Washington this year, raising questions about U.S. economic and military support to various allies and whether the nation spends too much support abroad.

Opposition within the GOP to foreign aid has been building, with Republicans arguing the U.S. needs to spend more on border security. 

The debate is likely to color this year’s presidential race, and the reelection of former President Trump and his America First campaign could raise questions about funding for some partners. 

Here’s a look at where the U.S. has spent the most on foreign aid this year and why.

All figures come from State Department spending in fiscal 2023, with the addition of foreign aid appropriations for Israel and Ukraine last month.


$78.3 billion

Congress allocated $61 billion for Ukraine in a foreign aid package signed late last month, following months of political fighting over whether to continue backing the country against a Russian invasion.

The funding nearly doubles what the U.S. has invested in Ukraine since its war began in early 2022, bringing the spending total on the conflict to about $137 billion between military and economic aid, according to the Kiel Institute.

Nearly all the military spending in the new aid package will be spent on domestic arms manufacturers, resupplying stockpiles sent to Ukraine to fight Russia. It also includes about $8 billion for economic development and recovery in the country.

The spending deal has split the GOP House majority and nearly led to the ouster of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and two other GOP members cited the aid package as the last straw in filing a motion to vacate the Speakership. Johnson survived the vote with the support of Democrats.

The Russia-Ukraine war has dragged on for months, with Ukrainian leaders complaining of dwindling supplies as American arms shipments from a December 2022 aid package ran out.

“For months, while MAGA Republicans were blocking aid, Ukraine’s been running out of artillery shells and ammunition,” Biden said when he signed the new aid package last month. “Meanwhile, Putin’s friends are keeping him well supplied.”

The new $61 billion expenditure is on top of about $17 billion allocated in 2022 that was spent last year.


$21.6 billion

Israel has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II. The country has accepted more than $300 billion since 1946, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, with more than $220 billion of the figure in military aid.

Long considered the U.S.’s closest ally in the Middle East, Congress has allocated between $3 billion to $4 billion per year to Israel consistently since the 1970s for its defense. Nearly all of the sum is provided through a State Department program allowing Israel to purchase U.S.-manufactured arms and munitions for no cost.

That trend was bucked late last month, as the long-awaited foreign aid package included about $15 billion in military aid for Israel amid its war with Hamas in Gaza. The package is the largest single-year allocation of aid for Israel in at least 50 years, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

“We will always make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Iran and the terrorists it supports,” Biden said when he signed the aid package.

President Biden withheld an arms shipment to Israel last week, part of a pressure campaign urging Israel not to invade the city of Rafah in southern Gaza.

Biden said the U.S. will halt future arms shipments if Israel enters the city, which Israeli leaders said Thursday it will likely do with or without U.S. backing.


$3.2 billion

Jordan is the third-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, according to a State Department and USAID tracker of spending. About half of the funds allocated for the country in 2023 were for military aid.

That spending has already come in handy in the Israel-Hamas war, as Jordan joined the United States in defending Israel against a wave of Iranian drone and missile strikes last month. The unprecedented attack on Israel was completely shut down by the combined defenses of the three countries.

Jordan also assisted the U.S. in airdrops of humanitarian aid into Gaza amid the conflict in March. 


$2.9 billion

Foreign spending in Egypt has come under additional scrutiny in the last year after the indictment of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

Menendez, who stepped down as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee during the investigation, is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands in bribes from interests in Egypt.

After the indictment, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who became foreign relations chair when Menendez stepped down, held back $235 million bound for Egypt, criticizing the country’s dogged record on human rights and press freedom.

“Congress has been clear, through the law, that the government of Egypt’s record on a range of critical human rights issues, good governance, and the rule of law must improve if our bilateral relationship is to be sustained,” Cardin said in October.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the equivalent House committee, made a similar request weeks earlier.

The controversy comes as Egypt plays a central role in the Israel-Hamas war. Egyptian diplomats have acted as intermediaries between Israel, the U.S. and Hamas, and Cairo played host to cease-fire negotiations last week.


$2.0 billion

Allocations to Ethiopia are nearly entirely humanitarian aid, as regions of the country struggle with a deep famine and civil unrest. The northern region of Tigray fell into an ethnic conflict in 2022, with rebel and government forces facing off as thousands starved.

USAID resumed food aid to the region in December, five months after it took the extraordinary step of halting its nationwide program over a massive corruption scheme by local officials.

The rare combination of droughts, conflict and other factors disrupting food supplies has made Ethiopia one of the largest recipients of U.S. humanitarian aid. About one-sixth of Ethiopians received food aid before discovery of the food theft early last year.


$1.5 billion

Nigeria foreign aid spending is focused on health care and food access. The U.S. spent about a quarter billion dollars on stemming the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country in 2023, according to USAID, as well as another $130 million on other health needs.

The country also has areas where food is in critical need, sparking another quarter billion in spending for food access and other expenditures filed by the State Department under “emergency response.”

Most of the support is funneled through non-government organizations and charities operating in the country.


$1.3 billion

Almost the entirety of funds allocated for Somalia are under emergency designation for food access as the country continues to struggle after decades of civil unrest.

About $700 million of the expenditures are in partnership with the United Nations, which has had a constant presence in the country for decades amid a brewing civil war with breakaway Somaliland.

Just more than $100 million is set to fund U.N. peacekeeping missions in the country.


$1.1 billion

In Kenya, U.S. humanitarian assistance is spread between health, food access and economic development.

The largest expenditure is in partnership with the World Food Program in the region, while the government also invested significant sums into fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS and supporting local agriculture.