Democratic Party leadership in the US House of Representatives removed about $1 billion of funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system on Tuesday.
The revision came after progressives in the party refused to vote for the broader bill in which the Iron Dome funding was included, which would have also renewed disaster funding, among other allocations.
The Democrats could not get the bill passed without the progressives, because the Republicans would not vote for the bill, either, citing the debt ceiling as its reason. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “the debt ceiling will be raised…by the Democrats.”
House Democratic leadership said the Iron Dome will be included in an eventual bipartisan defense bill for fiscal year 2022.
The White House began working on reversing the decision soon after it was announced, a diplomatic source said.
The Iron Dome is a missile defense system, which has stopped thousands of rockets launched by US-designated terrorist groups, like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, from striking the civilian centers at which they were aimed.
US President Joe Biden promised to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome batteries after the last round of fighting with Hamas in May, and again when he met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office last month.
Shortly before the House Democrats’ decision, Biden told the UN General Assembly: “The commitment of the United States to Israel’s security is without question and our support for an independent Jewish state is unequivocal.”
Iron Dome (credit: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SPOKESPERSON’S OFFICE)
A senior diplomatic source said that just two hours before the Democrats changed course, Jerusalem was told the funding was on track. Israel wants to avoid being used for internal US political wrangling by Democrats or Republicans, the source added.
While funding for the Iron Dome will likely get passed in the coming months, Israel views the matter with urgency and would like it as soon as possible, the source added.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) tweeted that “Iron Dome is a defensive system used by one of our closest allies to save civilian lives. It needs to be replenished because thousands of rockets were fired by the Hamas terrorists who control Gaza. Consider this my pushing back against this decision.”
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