Funding for joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs has been significantly boosted by House lawmakers following a bid by the White House to reduce the amount of money spent on these critical systems, according to funding documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal sought to slash funding for Israeli missile defense by nearly $200 million compared to last year’s finalized levels.
However, House lawmakers ignored Obama’s proposal and boosted funding by about $350 million more than the president requested in his budget, according to final funding levels in the House’s 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a sprawling yearly spending bill that allocates money to defense priorities.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), criticized Obama earlier this year when the initial funding levels were first proposed.
Lamborn said that he spearheaded the campaign to restore the funding for Israel’s Iron Dome, Arrow, and David’s Sling missile defense programs. Each of these advanced interceptors has been built jointly with the United States and the technology is shared between both countries.
"The Iron Dome and other missile defense systems are saving lives today and preventing further conflict," Lamborn said in a statement provided to the Free Beacon. "That’s why I have tirelessly advocated for full funding of Israeli missile defense and worked to ensure full funding in this year’s NDAA."
The Iron Dome system—which has successfully destroyed terrorist rockets in mid-air—will now receive $351 million, a boost of $175 million over Obama’s initial proposal of just $176 million, according to the NDAA.
The Arrow system—a more advanced interceptor that can take out ballistic missiles—is now slated to receive $130.9 million, which is $65.8 million more than Obama’s proposal of $65.1 million.
The David’s Sling system—which is being developed to target long range rockets and cruise missiles—will receive $137.9 million, or $106.2 million more than Obama’s proposal of $31.7 million.
The new funding levels are more in line with those requests made by the Israeli government, which has sought significantly more than Obama proposed, according to Israeli budget documents obtained earlier this year by the Free Beacon.
Lamborn, who also serves as a co-chair of the House’s Israel Allies Caucus, said that Congress had to step in on the funding front in order to ensure that these joint missile defense programs continue to benefit both American and Israeli citizens.
"Israel's missile defense systems not only protect our friends, the technology also provides practical applications and field-tested understanding that is applicable to America's missile defense network," Lamborn said.
"Our crucial missile partnership with Israel is a two-way street of information, technology, and experience that provides tremendous benefits when it comes to defending the United States," he said.
Congressional critics of the Obama administration have said that these missile defense systems are one of the few barriers between Israeli citizens and a barrage of terror rockets.
Iran, for instance, was caught earlier this month attempting to ship advanced missiles to the terror group Hamas, which rules over Gaza.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) and Grace Meng (D., N.Y.) also petitioned House appropriators in April to ask that they boost funding for the missile defense systems.