WASHINGTON – The United States House of Representatives passed their omnibus bill, which includes $1 billion for Israel's Iron Dome missile-defense system, on Thursday morning.
The House Appropriations Committee released the omnibus bill, which also included $250 million for the nonprofit security grant program (NSGP), earlier on Wednesday. The bill must now pass the US Senate before it is officially implemented.
The package comprises all 12 2022 fiscal year appropriations bills and supplemental funding to support Ukraine and manage the corona pandemic. A vote was said to be imminent.
The Iron Dome funding has been stalled for six months. The House of Representatives approved a stand-alone bill in September to provide Israel with $1b. for replenishing the anti-missile system. The vote passed 420-9. In the Senate, however, Republican Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky blocked several attempts to fast-track the bill by unanimous consent. Paul said that while he supports the Iron Dome, he thinks “it should be paid for.”
The NSGP has been a major agenda item for many Jewish organizations as well. Since the January 15 terrorist attack on Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, many Jewish organizations have urged Congress to double its budget. The program permits houses of worship and other threatened nonprofits to apply for grants of up to $150,000 each.
The money can be used for security measures such as fences, cameras, more secure doors and hiring of personnel. The bill would establish a dedicated NSGP office at the Department of Homeland Security, providing support mechanisms to eligible nonprofit organizations, and simplifying and streamlining the application process. It would also increase congressional oversight of the program.
“From Pittsburgh to Charleston to Colleyville, we have seen how important Nonprofit Security Grants are for securing our community and other faith communities, which is why we are so grateful to Congress for increasing funding to unprecedented levels,” said Jewish Federations President and CEO Eric Fingerhut. “We will work with bipartisan champions of this program to ensure that it continues to grow until there is enough funding to secure every synagogue, church, mosque and vulnerable nonprofit facility.”
"The historic level of funding for Israel’s security demonstrates solid bipartisan congressional support for our democratic ally," AIPAC tweeted. "This historic funding level shows that Democrats and Republicans stand together for Israel’s security which is in our national interest."
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the decision on Twitter:
"Thank you to the U.S. Congress for your overwhelming commitment to Israel’s security [and] for passing the critical security package — including the replenishment of the life-saving Iron Dome," Bennett wrote.
He specifically mentioned US President Joe Biden's efforts.
Thank you to the U.S. Congress for your overwhelming commitment to Israel’s security & for passing the critical security package — including the replenishment of the life-saving Iron Dome.Thank you @POTUS for your leadership & friendship.Together, we are stronger. pic.twitter.com/6SHC5Tpwx2— Naftali Bennett בנט (@naftalibennett) March 10, 2022
Gantz also thanked Biden, Congress and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
"The strategic connection between us and the US, which is based on an alliance of interests and values, is crucial for Israel's security and for maintaining its military superiority in the region, and we will do everything to strengthen and safeguard it," Gantz wrote.