STATE DEPARTMENT— The partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government means there is no money for foreign military assistance, delaying support for long-time allies like Israel.
Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that because there is no federal budget for the new fiscal year, there is no funding for foreign military financing, international military education or peacekeeping operations.
"The State Department's ability to provide military assistance to Israel and other allies in the timeframe that is expected and customary could be hindered, depending on the length of the shutdown," she said.
Support for Israel is a potent political issue for U.S. lawmakers, with many Republicans critical of President Barack Obama for not visiting Israel during his first term and for not taking a hard enough line with Iran, which Israel sees as its greatest threat.
A political group supporting 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney used footage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in one of its television commercials, with an off-screen narrator saying: "The world needs American strength. Not apologies."
At the State Department, Harf said the number of personnel furloughed so far has been relatively small, focused primarily on programs with year-to-year funding, such as a boundary waters commission and the inspector general's office.
"Every day that the government is shut down, we have to take a look at the numbers. And we have to take a hard look at competing priorities and our programs around the world. And every day that this goes on longer, there will be things we can't do. There will be ways that we can not go overseas and promote our interests," said Harf.
Secretary of State John Kerry is on a trip to Asia, where he will now represent the president in Malaysia and the Philippines. Obama has postponed visits there because of the partial government shutdown.