A picture taken July 25 shows the trail of a missile launched by Israel's Iron Dome as it intercepts a rocket launched from Gaza. (Jack Guez / AFP)
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WASHINGTON — The White House said Wednesday that it “strongly opposes” a Republican-crafted emergency spending bill, in part because it contains no funds for an Israeli missile defense system.
The Senate earlier in the day began debating a $3.5 billion supplemental spending measure that would send $225 million in emergency dollars to Israel for its Iron Dome missile defense program. A House version is much smaller, and GOP leaders opted against including the Iron Dome funding.
In a statement of administration policy, the White House voiced its opposition to the House version. The measure “does not include funding for the Department of Defense to support the government of Israel’s request for critical missile defense needs,” the White House says.
The policy statement says if the House supplemental reaches the president’s desk, his aides would recommend he veto it.
“The administration urges the Congress to pass sensible and responsible legislation to address these pressing needs,” the White House said.
In an unexpected move, the Senate voted 63-33 on Wednesday to begin work on the supplemental. The move started a 30-hour clock for debate. When that time expires or is yielded back, the chamber will hold another vote on moving to an up-or-down vote. Sixty votes will be required to do that, likely on Thursday.
The vote added a new layer of murkiness to just how a final version of the supplemental will be passed — and whether it will include Iron Dome funding — before both chambers leave Thursday or Friday for a five-week recess.
The GOP-controlled House plans to vote this week on a much smaller supplemental that contains no Iron Dome funding.
Lawmakers and sources say House Republican leaders support the Israeli missile defense funds, but are using the issue to try and get Senate Democrats to drop parts of the border crisis portion of the upper chamber’s bill to which they are opposed.
“We don’t [want] to take all of the Obama programs that we don’t like to get the Iron Dome,” said Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member, during a brief interview. ■