WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives included missile defense assistance for Israel in a massive funding bill.
Included in the $1.1 trillion bill passed Wednesday was $205 million for Iron Dome, a new Israeli short-range missile defense system aimed at containing rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, as well as $200 million for existing joint U.S.-Israel missile defense programs like the Arrow.
"This was a priority of Congress and President Obama, and it is the first funding of its kind for this important short-range rocket and artillery shell defense system," said Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), who as a defense appropriator helped craft the bill. "This is only the latest example that when it comes to defense, military and intelligence cooperation, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel has never been stronger."
The Democratic-led House passed the "continuing resolution" 212-206 along partisan lines, mostly as a means of funding the federal government at 2010 levels because the U.S. Senate has failed to pass any appropriations bill.
Senate Republicans, using minority prerogatives, have blocked passage of spending bills as they seek a greater say in the wake of midterm elections in which Democrats will lose control of the House as of January.
Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are now working to pass an omnibus spending bill for 2011 that would incorporate moneys in the "continuing resolution" as well as other funds in President Obama’s budget, including the $3 billion Israel otherwise receives annually in defense assistance.