WASHINGTON (JTA) — The majority of Republican freshmen in the U.S. House of Representatives have signed on to a letter committing to current levels of defense assistance to Israel.
Among the 87 freshmen, 65 have signed the letter initiated by Reps. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and Austin Scott (R-Ga.) to the party’s House leadership.
"As Israel faces threats from escalating instability in Egypt, Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, Hamas terrorists in Gaza and the existential danger posed by Iran’s nuclear program, full U.S. security assistance to Israel, including supporting Israel’s acquisition of the Iron Dome defense system, has never been more important for our own national security interests," said the letter asking fellow freshmen to sign, which was still accruing signatures as of Tuesday.
The appeal — and the support it garnered — is significant because it answers questions pro-Israel groups had about the 2011 class of GOP freshmen, many of them spurred to office by the Tea Party movement, which has cost cutting as its central focus.
The letter is a sign that President Obama’s proposal this week to maintain levels of funding for Israel, currently at about $3 billion annually, will be untouched.
Dold joined Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who is not a freshman lawmaker, in sending a similar letter last week to House appropriators.