Funding for Israel’s Missile-Defense System Heads to Obama’s Desk

Iron Dome gets last-minute passage in both chambers.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (L) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speak during a ceremony in the Capitol Visitor Center July 18, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Aug. 1, 2014, 7:45 a.m.

The House and Sen­ate on Fri­day both passed an emer­gency spend­ing meas­ure for Is­rael’s mis­sile-de­fense sys­tem, known as Iron Dome.

The last-minute, un­an­im­ous pas­sage in the Sen­ate came after the cham­ber failed to clear a $2.7 bil­lion emer­gency sup­ple­ment­al ap­pro­pri­ation for the crisis at the U.S. south­ern bor­der and $615 mil­lion for wild­fires burn­ing in the West.

The $225 mil­lion meas­ure passed by un­an­im­ous con­sent, with both Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id and Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell voicing their sup­port for Is­rael, which is en­gaged in fight­ing with Palestini­ans in Ga­za, where a cease-fire fell apart Fri­day morn­ing.

“By passing this bi­par­tis­an meas­ure, we send a mes­sage to Hamas that its ter­ror­ist tac­tics and its at­tempts to ter­ror­ize Is­rael’s popu­lace will not suc­ceed,” Mc­Con­nell said.

The House, mean­while, ap­proved the bill 395-8 — with just four Re­pub­lic­ans and four Demo­crats op­posed — Fri­day night after much more nar­rowly passing two im­mig­ra­tion meas­ures.

The pas­sage un­der­scores just how pop­u­lar sup­port­ing the state of Is­rael is, es­pe­cially in an elec­tion year when law­makers are eager to tan­gibly demon­strate their sup­port.

The move was not en­tirely un­ex­pec­ted. Lead­ers sug­ges­ted earli­er in the week that the fund­ing for Is­rael could be split from the bor­der-bill sup­ple­ment­al, and the dis­agree­ment over amend­ments that doomed the lar­ger fund­ing pack­age did not ex­tend to the money for Is­rael.

“As a treas­ured ally, it’s im­port­ant that we en­able Is­rael to guard them­selves against Hamas,” said Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Bar­bara Mikul­ski, who with Re­id and Mc­Con­nell sponsored the bill.

The le­gis­la­tion, though, was not without some token op­pos­i­tion. Sen. Tom Coburn of Ok­lahoma sought to off­set the cost of the fund­ing, but ul­ti­mately did not pre­vail.

The meas­ure was ad­op­ted un­an­im­ously, so Coburn or any sen­at­or could have ob­jec­ted to de­rail the bill.

The Sen­ate re­mains in ses­sion, but no roll-call votes are ex­pec­ted, and mem­bers have already de­par­ted for the Au­gust re­cess.

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