Congress approved $200 million in funding for Israel's critical missile defense programs as part of the annual U.S. defense spending package, according to a review of the legislation that was approved earlier this week.
The National Defense Authorization Act, the sprawling yearly spending bill, allocates $108 million to Iron Dome, Israel's chief defense against rocket attacks from Hamas and other Iran-armed terror groups. This funding will allow Israel to procure the components necessary to keep Iron Dome operating in the face of mounting regional threats. Some of that money will also make its way back to the United States since the system relies on components made in America.
David's Sling, which is designed to intercept enemy planes, drones, and ballistic missiles—such as those fired by Iran—is slated to receive $30 million. The Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor system, which is capable of destroying a ballistic missile in space, was given $62 million. The funding for all of these defense systems will provide a future bulwark against Israel's enemies, which continue to develop their own advanced weapons primarily with Tehran's assistance. The money will also help Israel maintain Iron Dome and its other systems after they were severely strained in May of this year, when Hamas fired thousands of rockets at civilian targets during several weeks of violence.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), who spearheaded the funding initiatives and ensured they remained in the final version of the NDAA, told the Washington Free Beacon that it is important to prioritize Israel's missile defense in the face of mounting Democratic opposition to such programs. House Democrats on the party's leftward flank have become increasingly vocal in their opposition to U.S.-Israel security cooperation. Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), two of the House's most vocal anti-Israel antagonists, have sought to block military aid to Israel and have brought many other Democrats to their side in recent years.
"I was very pleased we fully funded the Iron Dome and other Israeli missile defense programs, which, historically, were never controversial," Lamborn said. "Unfortunately, in recent years leading voices in the Democrat Party have become increasingly anti-Israel, and so much so that they oppose providing our strong friend Israel an entirely defensive weapon system like Iron Dome created to protect civilian population centers."
Lamborn also was able to secure language in the NDAA to increase "U.S.-Israel cooperation on missile defense, including directed energy."
"It is my hope," he said, "that soon Iron Dome will be supplemented by ‘Iron Beam'"—an even more powerful version of the current defense system.
In addition to missile defense, Congress authorized more than $6 million for joint U.S.-Israeli cybersecurity initiatives. These have become critical in recent years as Iran and other malign regimes use sophisticated hack attacks to disrupt Israel's defenses and interfere with military operations.
The $6 million will establish a grant program to boost U.S.-Israeli cybersecurity projects conducted in tandem with the Department of Homeland Security. Private companies, nonprofit groups, academic institutions, and other government agencies are eligible to obtain the grant money as long as they are directly engaged in a related program with Israel.