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Lawmakers at Inouye memorial pledge Iron Dome support

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bipartisan array of U.S. lawmakers at a memorial for Sen. Daniel Inouye pledged continued support of Israel’s anti-missile defense system.

Ten senators and at least seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives paid tribute in speeches on Wednesday to Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat who championed funding for Israel through his decades in the Senate. Inouye died in December.

Among those addressing the event in the Russell Senate Building were Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee; Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, and that committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.); and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), named to replace Inouye by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

They also each committed to sustaining funding for the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which Israel said repelled upward of 80 percent of the rockets launched into the country during Israel’s Gaza Strip war with Hamas last November.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said she would soon join Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) in introducing additional funding for Iron Dome.

Schatz urged lawmakers to resolve an impasse over the budget that threatens massive spending cuts in coming weeks, saying Iron Dome and other programs could suffer.

"My colleagues must come together once again and protect funding for critical programs such as this," he said. "The resources needed to guarantee American and Israeli security cannot be subject to political partisanship."

The event was organized by the Friedlander Group and chaired by Robert Rechnitz, a Los Angeles-based real estate developer and philanthropist.

Also speaking were Bill Thompson, a candidate for mayor in New York City; Inouye’s widow, Irene; James Woolsey, a former CIA director; and Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington.

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