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Democratic party leadership in the US House of representatives blocked $1 billion for the Iron Dome.
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.
The progressive Democrats blocking the Iron Dome funding are among those who pushed to block arms to Israel during Operation Guardian of the Wall in May, according to Politico. That move was led by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of NY, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
The Democrats could not get the bill passed without the progressives, because 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 funding will be included in an eventual bipartisan defense bill for fiscal year 2022.
The bill, including Iron Dome funding, was a continuing resolution (CR), providing funding in the interim period before a new budget is passed. It also included $28.6b, in disaster aid and $6.3b. in funding for African refugees. If the CR does not pass by late December, there will likely be a government shutdown.
The White House began working on reversing the decision soon after it was announced, a diplomatic source said.
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, a senior diplomatic source added.
Tensions between Israel and Hamas have spiked in recent weeks, including Gazan terrorists launching rockets into Israel.
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.”
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.
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.”
Rep. Ritchie Torres, a progressive Democrat from New York said “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.’”
Though the GOP did not intend to vote for the bill, Republican leader in the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy tweeted: “Democrats just pulled funding from the Iron Dome – the missile defense system that has saved countless lives in Israel from Hamas’ rocket attacks. While Dems capitulate to the antisemitic influence of their radical members, Republicans will always stand with Israel.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) responded to the change on Twitter saying that “Extremists in Congress are playing politics with Israeli & Palestinian lives.
“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 & supported by Congressional leadership.”
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