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House lawmakers are petitioning their colleagues on a key appropriations committee to significantly increase funding for several joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs that they say are key to the Jewish state’s defense.
Reps. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) and Grace Meng (D., N.Y.) wrote to the leaders of the House’s appropriations subcommittee on defense to request that they boost funding for these key missile defense programs.
The lawmakers wrote that even in tough budgetary times these missile programs require greater funding due to their positive impact on both the U.S. and Israeli defense front.
Roskam and Meng requested $350 million for Israel’s Iron Dome system, which has been used to intercept terrorist rockets before they strike Israeli cities. The money would be a $130 million increase from last year’s levels.
They are additionally asking for $268.7 million to ensure that several other missile defense systems—Arrow, Arrow 3, and David’s Sling—are fully funded at the same levels.
“During these challenging budgetary times, we can and must prioritize federal funding for the programs where federal involvement can have the greatest impact on people’s lives,” the lawmakers wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. “These cooperative programs are without question one of these worthy priorities in need of our support.”
The lawmakers note that all of these programs benefit the United States.
“These programs also yield a tremendous return-on-investment for the United States in the form of economic, technological, and military benefits,” the letter states.
“This year, for the first time, a portion of Iron Dome production will take place in the U.S. Sharing in the co-production of these systems create American jobs and allows the U.S. to share in the programs’ technology,” the letter states.
“These proven missile defense programs are a win-win for the United States, as they save lives, prevent conflict escalation, and advance U.S. objectives by promoting regional stability and protecting a valuable ally,” the lawmakers wrote.
Roskam said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon that the United States must “expand and accelerate” its cooperation with Israel.
"Missile defense cooperation with Israel is one of the smartest, most mutually beneficial security investments," Roskam said. "The unprecedented success of Iron Dome has been a game-changer for Israel by shielding its people from incessant rocket fire from terrorist organizations within the Gaza Strip.”
“We must also continue to work with Israel to co-develop Arrow-3 and David's Sling in order to confront increasingly sophisticated missile threats from Iran, Hezbollah, and others,” he said. “I am pleased to work in a bipartisan fashion with Congresswoman Meng to expand and accelerate America's critical strategic partnership with Israel.”
Other House lawmakers have warned in recent weeks that President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget would slash funding for these missile defense program by millions of dollars compared with last years levels.
The Israeli government also has petitioned Congress to increase funding for these programs above the levels proposed by Obama.