Congress is slated to vote on $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system on Thursday, a day after Progressives tried to scuttle a larger budget bill the allocation of funds to Israel.
Republican leaders lambasted the Democrats as anti-Israel over the move while more moderate Democrats reaffirm their opposition to any delay in the replenishment of Iron Dome interceptors.
The short-to-mid-range air defense system is a crucial component in Israel’s ability to defend itself from rocket and short-range missile attacks by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. Since its deployment in 2011, Iron Dome has been credited with saving countless Israeli lives and lauded for being a game-changer in home front defense.
The United States has already provided more than $1.6 billion for Israel to develop and build the Iron Dome system, according to a Congressional Research Service report last year.
In a countermove to Progressive, Democrats introduced standalone legislation late Wednesday to provide Israel with the necessary funding.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) DeLauro introduced the bill, saying, “The United States’ commitment to the security of our friend and ally Israel is ironclad. Replenishing interceptors used to protect Israel from attacks is our legal and moral responsibility.
“While this funding would ordinarily be included in a year-end spending package, we are advancing this legislation now to demonstrate Congress’ bipartisan commitment to Israel’s security as part of a Middle East with lasting peace,” she said.
“This afternoon, House Democrats introduced H.R. 5323, legislation to fully fund Israel’s Iron Dome. I will bring this urgently needed measure to the House Floor tomorrow for a vote to ensure Israel has the ability to defend itself,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer posted.
Hoyer also spoke on the matter with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and assured him the issue was a mere “technical delay” related to discussions over the U.S. debt ceiling, and not a reflection of U.S. policy toward Israel.
Hoyer reportedly stressed his commitment to Israel’s security, emphasizing that it was a view shared by the White House and Democrat House and Senate leaders while pledging that the Iron Dome funding would soon be allocated, the Foreign Ministry said.
The bill is now likely to be included in the 2022 defense appropriations bill.
The move to pull funding for a matter crucial to Israel’s security drew harsh criticism from some U.S. Jewish groups.
“Extremists in Congress are playing politics with Israeli and Palestinian lives,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement on Twitter. “Calling to remove funding for a lifesaving defensive system is an affront to our values, risks further conflict, and is counter to the commitment made by Biden and supported by Congressional leadership.
“It’s simple: Iron Dome saves lives. Blocking funding for Iron Dome helps terrorists kill civilians,” it added.
The Republican Jewish Coalition also condemned the move.
RJC National Chairman Senator Norm Coleman called the ploy “disgraceful,” adding, “House Democrats should be ashamed of themselves. By cowardly caving to the Israel-hating wing of their party and blocking vital assistance to support our ally Israel, House Democrats have emboldened the likes of Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to continue dragging their party even further to the radical Left.”