House Dems Reject Measure To Boost Israeli Security Aid

GOP attempted to secure funding for Israel's Iron Dome as war rages

The U.S. Capitol /
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May 20, 2021

House Democrats on Thursday voted against a measure to provide Israel with emergency funding for its Iron Dome missile defense system, which destroys terrorist rockets before they land, saving scores of lives as Israel continues to fight against Palestinian terror groups.

In a vote of 218-209, Democrats rejected a security funding amendment offered by Rep. Tony Gonzales (R., Texas). The measure would have paved the way for Israel to receive a tranche of emergency dollars specifically for missile defense, which has proven critical as Iranian-backed terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad target Israeli citizens. One Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.), voted with Democrats against the measure.

"We need to show [Israel] we believe in their right to defend themselves, and the United States will do everything in our power to ensure they defeat these terrorist and any attacks by Iran," Gonzales said on the House floor ahead of the vote. "Will my Democrat colleagues choose to stand with Israel or will they cower to the Iranian proxies?"

The Democrat-controlled House's rejection of the security amendment came just days after a Republican bid to sanction Hamas was shut down. On Tuesday, Democrats rejected a bid by House Republicans to hold a vote on Hamas sanctions legislation that would have cut off the group’s funding sources.

"Democrats blocked aid for Israel—our strongest ally in the Middle East," Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said after the vote. "This is aid that could help de-escalate the attacks and save thousands of Israeli and Palestinian lives. And they blocked it."

Both votes were championed by Republicans seeking to bolster the Jewish state in its time of war. Democrats, however, have been divided on the issue. While the party's leadership has expressed support for Israel's right to defend itself, far-left, anti-Israel voices such as Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) are pressuring their colleagues to cut U.S. aid and even sanction Israel for what they claim are war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) introduced a measure late Wednesday to block weapons sales to Israel, an effort that was backed by an array of anti-Israel lawmakers and organizations and supporters of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Earlier in the week, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) considered delaying U.S. military aid to Israel, an unprecedented move for the historically pro-Israel committee. Meeks abandoned the effort after Democratic leaders intervened.

Gonzales's measure to boost U.S. security funding was offered as an amendment to a bill that would increase security in and around the Capitol complex. Critics have derided the legislation as an effort to militarize the building in the wake of the January 6 riots.

The money would have been sent to Israel as part of a $3.8 billion security agreement with America, which has historically received broad, bipartisan support. At least $73 million would have been allocated for the Iron Dome system. Another $177 million would have gone toward short-range ballistic missile defense and $77 million for Israel's Arrow III program, a more sophisticated missile system that intercepts incoming munitions higher in the sky.