The Obama administration is waging a quiet effort on Capitol Hill to restore U.S. taxpayer funding for a United Nations organization that has long been accused of having an anti-Israel bias, according to State Department funding requests obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The State Department earlier this month petitioned Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), a member of the Senate’s appropriations committee, to consider restoring funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, otherwise known as UNESCO.

Taxpayer funding to the organization was cut in 2011 after UNESCO accepted Palestine as a member state, a move that violated U.S. law barring the funding of any U.N. group that skirts the peace process by prematurely admitting Palestine as a full member nation.

The cutoff in U.S. contributions, which totaled around $80 million annually, brought UNESCO to the brink of financial collapse and sparked further consideration of actions deemed by critics to be anti-Israel in nature.

In its petition to Leahy, the State Department asks for a funding waiver in the 2016 appropriations bill that would allow the U.S. government to restart yearly payments of $76 million to UNESCO. The administration also is seeking authority to give the organization up to $160 million to help erase outstanding debts.

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