After Initial Embarrassment, pro-Israel Dems Celebrate Victory on Iron Dome Funding

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol, on Thursday.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Capitol, on Thursday.Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Key supporters of Israel in the Democratic Party celebrated on Thursday the overwhelming vote by the House of Representatives to approve $1 billion in emergency funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

On Tuesday, an internal dispute within the ranks of the Democratic Party led to the removal of Iron Dome aid from a stopgap funding bill, after behind-the-scenes pressure from several progressive Democratic lawmakers. The bill was introduced as stand-alone legislation under suspension of rules earlier this week following uproar from pro-Israel Democrats.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, one of the pro-Israel Democrats who pushed back against progressive efforts to strip the aid from the bill, told Haaretz that the aftermath and the vote itself show how the Democratic Party and its majority in Congress support the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“The important thing here is that Israel needs to be able to defend herself by herself, and so passing this legislation today is essential because there can’t be any gap in Israel’s ability to do that,” she said.

The Florida congresswoman noted that she and her fellow pro-Israel Democrats stressed to party leadership how essential it was that the aid be presented as a stand-alone following its removal from the spending bill. “Leadership agreed right away, and that’s because we have overwhelming support in our caucus to support Israel, particularly Israel’s defense,” she says.

Wasserman Schultz added: “The legislative process is a multifaceted one. To me, when you support something and it’s in a must-pass bill, then you support it and you let it go. But that’s okay, we pivoted and found a way to make it happen and hopefully the Senate will take it up quickly and send it to the president.”

An Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket from Gaza Strip in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, in 2014.Credit: Tsafrir Abayov / AP

Rep. Ted Deutch, a pro-Israel stalwart in the House, said, “Since the Hamas onslaught of rockets against civilians earlier this year, we knew funding for Iron Dome would need to be replenished, as President Biden committed. Once language was added to the continuing resolution, it should have remained there.”

Deutch stressed that “there is overwhelming support for providing this lifesaving defensive technology to Israel, one of our closest allies in the world. Now that this is a stand-alone bill, that support will be clear. Every member truly committed to human rights and saving lives will vote to help save the lives of Israelis and Palestinians by supporting supplemental funding for Iron Dome.”

Rep. Brad Schneider said that "America’s commitment to Iron Dome is rock solid. Today’s vote will make that clear — despite some on both sides of the aisle who seek to make Israel and our unyielding support of Israel a wedge issue."

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, speaking on the House floor, decried his colleagues who opposed the funding. "Unfortunately, some of my colleagues recently used support for this defense system as a political football. They threatened to shut down the federal government, put at risk hurricane disaster relief and help for Afghan refugees — all of our support for Iron Dome. It was outrageous, but now we have a chance to act."

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

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