WASHINGTON — The House passed legislation overwhelmingly to provide $1 billion to Israel to restock its Iron Dome short-range missile defense system just days after Democrats removed the funding from a broad stopgap spending bill.
The 420-9 vote saw only eight Democrats and one Republican vote “no,” and two Democrats vote “present.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said ahead of the vote that it would continue support under the U.S.-Israeli aid deal signed in 2016, which calls for $500 million in annual missile defense funding.
“The funding being appropriated today simply continues and strengthens this support,” Pelosi said during the hour-long debate. “Passage of this bill reflects the great unity, in Congress on a bipartisan and bicameral basis, for Israel. Security assistance to Israel is vital, because Israel security is an imperative for America’s security.”
Earlier in the week, a group of the House’s most liberal Democrats objected to the new money being included in a broader continuing resolution, meant to keep the government open past the start of the new fiscal year and through Dec. 3. That jeopardized its passage because Republicans were united against the CR’s inclusion of a clause to raise the country’s debt limit.
Republicans used the move to paint Democrats as anti-Israel, though Democrats said that was baseless.
“The Democratic Party has come under an extraordinary, bizarre influence of a group of anti-semites who also hate the state of Israel,” said South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, the top Republican on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism subcommittee.
The largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II, Israel had received $1.65 billion for Iron Dome through 2020, according to a Congressional Research Service report last year. President Joe Biden, defying calls from progressive lawmakers to reduce military aid to Israel, pledged to replenish Israeli Iron Dome systems used in May to counter rockets fired at the Jewish State from Gaza.
“We cannot be talking only about Israelis’ need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system and are dying from what Human Rights Watch has said are war crimes,” Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Congress’s only Palestinian-American member, said in a floor speech Thursday. “We should also be talking about Palestinians’ need for security from Israeli attacks.”
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal said Wednesday that the objections of progressive lawmakers to the latest Iron Dome funding might have been worked out if she had been forewarned the money would be in the initial CR. But she also acknowledged progressives have broader problems with the administration’s Israel policy and said that lead Democrats should heed the shifting politics.
It was not immediately clear whether the Senate will take up with the House-passed bill. Ahead of the House vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. declined to say, but suggested was an inevitability that Congress will approve the funds.
“Iron Dome is very important and it’ll get done. That’s all I’m going to say,” Schumer told Defense News on Thursday morning.
Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.