The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed on Thursday a stand-alone bill providing $1 billion in emergency funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, days after progressive Democrats successfully managed to get it removed from a stopgap spending bill.
A vast majority of 420 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, and only nine against – eight of them Democrats. Two other Democrats voted present. The bill permitting the emergency aid will now move to the Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi highlighted the bipartisan will of Congress to back Israel's security. "Passage of this bill reflects the great unity and 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," she told lawmakers ahead of the vote.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who brought the legislation to the House floor, acknowledged "there are some few who will not support this, but the overwhelming majority of this Congress will — not in a partisan way, but in an American way."
After the vote, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked several key proponents of the bill for their "ongoing and unwavering support of the State of Israel and its security," which Defense Minister Benny Gantz echoed in a similar tweet. Bennett added that the vote was a "resounding response" to those challenging U.S. support for Israel" in a tweet in Hebrew.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also expressed his thanks on Twitter, writing "I am grateful for the overwhelming bipartisan support for Israel and the solid commitment to our security demonstrated today by the vote on the replenishment of the Iron Dome missile defense system."
Democrats to vote against the bill include Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Andre Carson, Ilhan Omar, Marie Newman, Ayanna Pressley, Jesus Garcia, Raul Grijalva and Cori Bush. Rep. Thomas Massie was the sole Republican no-vote. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Hank Johnson voted present.
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House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, the Connecticut Democrat who introduced the bill, said the bill "demonstrates Congress's commitment to our friend and ally Israel is bipartisan and ironclad. It fulfills our moral imperative to protect the lives of innocent civilians and helps build the foundation for peace," stressing that the funds in question are "limited to a system that is entirely defensive."
The latter clarification was perhaps a response to progressive critics who have taken issue with language included in the bill reading "that such funds shall be provided to address emergent requirements in support of Operation Guardian of the Walls." Progressives have charged that this language enables offensive military aid for Israel, whereas others have responded that this language is simply aimed at replenishing the depleted stockpile of interceptors.
One such critic, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, said that she would not support "an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses, and violence. We cannot be talking only about Israelis need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system." Tlaib added that "we should also be talking about Palestinian need for security from Israeli attacks, we must be consistent in our commitment to human life."
Rep. Ted Deutch scrapped his planned speech to rebuke Tlaib, saying "I cannot allow one of my colleagues to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives, and label the Jewish and democratic state of Israel an apartheid state. I reject it."
"To falsely characterize the State of Israel, it's consistent with those who advocate for the dismantling of the one Jewish state in the world. And when there is no place on the map for one Jewish state, that's antisemitism and I reject that," he added.
The bill was introduced as stand-alone legislation under suspension of rules earlier this week following uproar from pro-Israel Democrats after the bill's removal from the stopgap spending bill and temporarily moved to the annual defense bill. Israel receives $3.8 billion in U.S. military aid annually, $500 million of which is dedicated to funding the Iron Dome. The $1 billion in question is in addition to the already committed funds.