WASHINGTON (JTA) — A U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee authorized $680 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
The approval came during the Strategic Forces subcommittee’s markup on Thursday of the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. A markup is when a subcommittee votes to refer a bill to the full committee; the act in question authorizes defense spending.
The Obama administration gave Israel $205 million in 2009 on top of its $3 billion defense assistance to help launch the system. President Obama’s original budget proposal had no funding request for the missile defense system, but in recent weeks Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, citing its success in repelling barrages of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip earlier this year, said the administration would agree to additional funding.
In March, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and chairman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) introduced the Iron Dome Support Act, which authorized the president to provide additional assistance to the missile defense program. The legislation has garnered 74 co-sponsors.
Following the Strategic Forces subcommittee’s approval of the $680 million, Berman released a statement noting that “Iron Dome is a game changer, saving innocent lives and protecting Israelis.”
“Securing additional funding to deploy additional Iron Dome batteries is an Israeli necessity, an American priority, and a strategic imperative,” Berman said in the statement.