WASHINGTON – Eight major pro-Israel and Jewish establishment groups on Tuesday wrote U.S. Senate leadership to plead they “urgently move forward” with the $1 billion in emergency Iron Dome missile defense system funding that has been stagnant in the Senate since September.
The groups wrote Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that “withholding funding for our closest ally while terrorists continue to threaten their people puts Israel in grave danger, increases the likelihood of innocent Palestinian and Israelis being harmed in another round of conflict and hurts American standing and national security interests.”
The organizations – Christians United for Israel, the Jewish Federations of North America, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Union for Reform Judaism, the Anti-Defamation League and Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America – also directly called out Sen. Rand Paul, the lone senator preventing the funding from being fast-tracked through the Senate via unanimous consent.
While the House overwhelmingly approved the budget in a 420-9 vote, the Kentucky Republican insisted that the funding for Iron Dome should be reallocated from proposed U.S. assistance to Afghanistan.
“One person’s objection should not undermine the overwhelming bipartisan will of the Senate nor stand in the way of ensuring Israel has the tools necessary to keep its people safe,” the organizations write.
There are two likely paths forward for the funding at this point: Democratic and Republican leaderships could strike a bipartisan deal to fully fund the government at updated and agreed-upon levels before an 11-week stopgap funding measure (also known as a continuing resolution or a CR) expires in February. In this case, the aid could be included as part of a massive omnibus bill.
“While we understand the supplemental Iron Dome funding would likely be included in a final omnibus spending package, the delay and even the prospects of a second continuing resolution undermine Israel’s security when the need to replenish this defensive system is urgent,” the organizations noted in their letter.
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If the funding is not included in an omnibus spending package, House leadership will likely be forced to consider adding the Iron Dome funds to another continuing resolution.
At least one pro-Israel Democrat has already committed to not voting in favor of such a CR unless the Iron Dome funding is included. This would portend a significant clash where a Democrat threatens to cross party lines and help Republicans scuttle an emergency funding measure in a year of midterm elections for the sake of Iron Dome funding, not to mention a repeat eruption of the controversy and subsequent debate of U.S. military aid to Israel.