WASHINGTON – US House appropriators have pushed funding for Israeli missile
defense programs to its highest level ever, with $422.7 million now slated for
Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense added
$95.7m. to the original White House funding request for the long-range Arrow
programs and medium-range David’s Sling, according to sources close to the panel.
The lion’s share – $108.8m. – will go to the Arrow 3 system, which the US signed
off on after some initial hesitation.
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In addition, the monies include
$205m. pledged this spring by US President Barack Obama to the
short-range Iron Dome project.
The package is more than twice as much as
last year’s total, and adds up to nearly $1 billion in aid to joint US-Israel
missile defense programs in the past four years.
“Chairman [Norm] Dicks,
myself and all the members of the Defense Subcommittee understand how important
it is to be at the cutting edge of anti-missile technology, both to safeguard
our own citizens and troops, but also those citizens and troops of our allies
and friends such as the people of the Jewish state of Israel,” Rep. Steve
Rothman (D-New Jersey) told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
pushed for greater funding of joint US-Israel missile defense programs during
his tenure on the committee.
“It would be political suicide
for the Senate to come in with a lower number”
The funding will need to be voted on by the
full House when it reconvenes in the fall, as well as approved by the Senate in
its own defense appropriations bill.
That bill could be “marked up” next
week but is more likely to be reviewed after the August recess. In the “mark-up
session,” amendments may be offered to the bill, and the committee members would
vote to accept or reject those changes.
“It would be political suicide
for the Senate to come in with a lower number,” said one source close to the
issue of his expectation that the Senate will agree to the totals set by the
House last week. “There’s virtually zero chance that these [projects] don’t get
funded at these levels.”
The funding comes at a time when the US has been
under pressure to tighten its belt given the recession, with the defense budget
“Given the concern and attention that we are focusing now
on every dollar we are expending on behalf of the US taxpayer for all purposes,
including the defense of the United States and its allies, it is a mark of the
importance of these projects that they were all funded so robustly and fully by
our subcommittee,” Rothman said.
There were also concerns among some
elements of the pro-Israel community that the new money for the Iron Dome
project announced by Obama would come at the expense of the funding for the
Arrow and David’s Sling projects, so that overall missile defense aid would not
The Israeli government is among those pleased by
“The embassy of Israel deeply appreciates this latest
expression of the congressional commitment to Israel’s security and to the
development of systems that will enhance the defense of both Israel and the
United States,” Ambassador to the US Michael Oren said.