US Democrats Strike Down $1Bln in Israel Defense Aid to Keep US Govt Running, Reports Say
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Democrat lawmakers in US Congress will drop $1 billion of US aid for an Israeli air defense system in order to keep the US federal government funded over the next 2 months, political news site The Hill reported on Tuesday.
The provision to assist Israel's 'Iron Dome' air defense system was originally included in a bill to keep the federal government funded through December 3, but was removed on objection from some progressives in the Democratic Party, The Hill said, citing sources familiar with the last-minute snag.
The issue over Iron Dome funding comes as Democratic centrists and progressives appeared at odds over the timing and scope of Biden's infrastructure agenda.
Moderates demanded a pledge from Democratic leaders last month to hold a vote by next Monday on the $1.2 trillion Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill to invest in roads, bridges and broadband initiatives.
But progressives have threatened to tank that bill if the larger, $3.5 trillion "human" infrastructure package to invest in social safety net programs like childcare and expanded Medicare benefits isn't completed by then.
Not all were happy with the decision to drop the funding for the Israeli air defense system.
Josh Gottheimer, a leading Democrat centrist, expressed frustration that the Iron Dome funding was being removed, but stopped short of threatening to vote against the bill.
"The Iron Dome protects innocent civilians in Israel from terrorist attacks and some of my colleagues have now blocked funding it," Gottheimer tweeted. "We must stand by our historic ally â€” the only democracy in the Middle East."
Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul claimed that the US House Democratic leadership needs to reconsider plans to pull $1 billion in funding for Israel's. Otherwise, the action would harm the Jewish state's ability to defend itself, he said.
"There is strong bipartisan support to supply our friend and ally Israel with the tools to defend itself against future threats and I would urge Democrat leaders to reconsider this dangerous decision," McCaul said in a press release on Tuesday.
He also asserted that the Iron Dome saved lives and helped limit civilian casualties in a May conflict in which Hamas militants in Gaza fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel.
Democrats are planning to bring the legislation to the Congress floor later Tuesday. Congress must act within a matter of days to avoid a government shutdown when current funding expires at the end of this month.
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