Israeli Security a Top Priority in House Budget Bill

Latest defense spending bill provides Israel with millions of dollars in security aid

Israeli soldiers work by their tanks (Reuters)
May 30, 2024

House lawmakers are preparing a far reaching defense budget that will vastly expand U.S. military support for Israel and allocate millions more in funding than was originally requested by the White House.

The fiscal year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual defense bill that is being shaped by Congress, will provide Israel with millions of dollars in security aid in the coming year and ensure the Biden administration provides the Jewish state with the resources needed to beat back threats from Iran-backed terror groups operating on its border.

The defense bill comes at a tense point in U.S.-Israel relations, as the Biden administration threatens to halt the delivery of American arms to the Jewish state in order to stop it from conducting a full-scale military incursion into the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Already, the Biden administration has paused some munitions shipments, drawing widespread GOP outrage, and ongoing discussions surrounding this year’s NDAA indicate Israel’s security is a top-line item.

The draft budget, which passed the House Armed Services Committee last week with bipartisan support, focuses on bolstering Israeli missile defense systems, such as the Iron Dome, at a time when it is fending off Hamas rockets, missile strikes from Hezbollah from Lebanon, and an increasingly belligerent Iran. The House budget bill would reverse an effort by the Biden administration to halt the production of missiles that have "recently played a key role defending Israel from Iranian ballistic missile attacks," according to Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), the House Armed Services Committee’s chair.

In defiance of the Biden administration’s policy, the House NDAA will ensure America continues to produce a ship-based surface-to-air missile that was used earlier this year to fend off an unprecedented attack by Iran on Israeli territory.

"Israel has the right to defend itself from Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah," Rogers told the Washington Free Beacon. "The FY25 NDAA makes it clear that the U.S. stands with Israel by investing in U.S.-Israel cooperation and joint exercises. Additionally, the FY25 NDAA fully funds critical missile defense programs, like Iron Dome, Arrow, and David’s Sling, that benefit both the U.S. and Israel."

"Our support for Israel is ironclad," Rogers said.

Congressional sources familiar with the matter said there remains strong bipartisan support for Israel’s defense on the Armed Services Committee and in the full House. The legislation will make its way to the House floor in the coming weeks and the Senate will offer its version of the 2025 NDAA in June. In the upper chamber, it is likely that funding for Israel will emerge as a top priority among leaders in both parties.

In the House, lawmakers budgeted $47.5 million above the White House’s initial request for emerging research and development projects with Israel, including those that will help the Jewish state fend off Iran’s terror proxies and bolster U.S. deterrence in the region, according to an internal fact sheet produced by the Armed Services Committee and provided to the Free Beacon.

Another $30 million above the White House’s initial request was allocated to the U.S.-Israel Anti-Tunnel Cooperation Program, a joint project that focuses on eliminating the Hamas terror group’s sophisticated network of tunnels throughout the Gaza Strip and areas of Israel. Hamas used this tunnel system, portions of which run beneath United Nations facilities, to carry out its Oct. 7 terror rampage and has since used it to transport Israeli hostages captured on that day.

The House NDAA also grants full American funding for joint American-Israeli missile defense programs such as David’s Sling and Iron Dome, both of which have been integral to Israel’s ability to shoot down missiles before they land in civilian areas, according to the information provided by the House Armed Services Committee.

The Pentagon would also be required under the draft budget to "implement a strategy to improve air and missile defense cooperation with Israel and other Middle East security partners." This includes Defense Department-led efforts to "improve cooperation on space and satellite capabilities with Israel and other Middle East security partners."

Joint U.S.-Israel training programs also would receive American funds under the draft budget, including a requirement for U.S. Central Command "to engage in joint anti-tunneling exercises with Israel Defense Forces," according to the funding priorities viewed by the Free Beacon.