by: Kate Norman
Thursday, 23 September 2021 | A member of the US House of Representatives introduced US $1 billion in funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in a separate bill on Wednesday after it was dropped from the government’s spending bill the day before.
Israel found itself in the middle of a political tug-of-war in Congress this week. Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reportedly tacked on the $1 billion in Israeli funding to her spending bill at the last minute in order to entice Republican lawmakers to pass it.
However, not enough Republicans were swayed to vote for the bill, which would raise the budget ceiling and increase government spending, so Pelosi caved into pressure from the progressives to pull the Israeli funding clause from the bill.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy took to Twitter to blast the decision.
“Democrats just pulled funding from the Iron Dome—the missile defense system that has saved countless lives in Israel from Hamas’ rocket attacks,” McCarthy wrote. “While Dems capitulate to the anti-Semitic influence of their radical members, Republicans will always stand with Israel.”
Though a majority of Republicans back Israel, support for the Jewish state is not necessarily a partisan issue. Several Democratic members of Congress, including progressives, voiced their anger over the funding pull.
Democratic Representative Ritchie Torres from New York tweeted his response to the vote: “A missile defense system (i.e. Iron Dome) defends civilians from missiles. Hence the name. Only in a morally inverted universe would this be considered a ‘controversy.’”
New York Democratic Representative Jamaal Bowman defended the decision to pull the Israeli funding clause because of its last-minute addition, saying there had been no time to discuss it.
“It’s not about Israel,” Bowman told Bloomberg. “It’s about, once again, leadership throwing something on our table last minute and expecting us to decide in five minutes what to do with it.”
The mixed responses from across the aisle suggest that the pull was not likely an anti-Israel issue, but rather a political tug-of-war over the budget—a bill that Pelosi needs to pass successfully before September 30 to prevent a possible government shutdown.
Nonetheless, Representative Rosa DeLauro, the Democratic leader of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced a separate bill on Wednesday to pull through on the $1 billion funding for the Iron Dome, an issue that has been high on the agenda for discussion between Israeli and American lawmakers.
In fact, Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he spoke to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid just after the vote on Tuesday and “assured him that bill was going to pass this House.”
Lapid in his own statement downplayed Tuesday’s move as a “technical delay” in the funding.
After the volatile 11-day conflict in May in which terrorists in Gaza fired more than 4,000 rockets toward Israel, the Jewish state’s Iron Dome batteries were depleted. According to the Israeli military, the Iron Dome intercepted 90% of the incoming missiles, saving countless lives.
President Joe Biden promised after the conflict to replenish Israel’s supply and renewed that promise during Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to Washington last month.
“The United States’ commitment to the security of our friend and ally Israel is ironclad,” Representative DeLauro said in a statement on Wednesday as she submitted the separate bill. “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,” she added, “we are advancing this legislation now to demonstrate Congress’ bipartisan commitment to Israel’s security as part of a Middle East with lasting peace.”
Posted on September 23, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 23, 2021)
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com
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