WASHINGTON – House majority leader Steny Hoyer vowed on Tuesday to bring a suspension bill to the House floor later this week to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome, hours after Democratic leadership had to remove the $1 billion provision from a continuing resolution amid pushback from Progressives.
“It’s my intention to bring to this floor a suspension bill before the end of this week, that will fully fund Iron Dome,” Hoyer said on the House floor. “We ought to do it.”
This evening, I announced on the Floor that the House will consider legislation this week to fully fund Iron Dome. We will act to ensure Israel has the ability to defend itself, and I expect strong, bipartisan support for this effort.— Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) September 22, 2021
Hoyer said he talked to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid “and assured him that the bill was going to pass this House. I hope that my colleagues on that side of the aisle would join me. I intend to bring it to the floor and it will be done. It is absolutely essential.”
He said that the air defense system was instrumental in warding off the 4,400 rockets that were fired from Gaza over 11 days in May.
“Iron Dome saved lives and property and held Israel secure,” Hoyer said. “The president wants this bill passed... and I believe scores of others on both sides of the aisle want to make sure that Israel is secure and that she could replenish the assets of Iron Dome – which are defensive only, not offensive weapons – so that if somebody sends a rocket toward either people or places in Israel, they will be able to intercept that rocket and save lives and save property.”
Senator Norm Coleman, Republican Jewish Coalition national chairman, said that House Democrats “should be ashamed of themselves. By cowardly caving to the Israel-hating wing of their party and blocking vital assistance to support our ally Israel, House Democrats have emboldened the likes of Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to continue dragging their party even further to the radical Left,” he said in a statement.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) also sharply criticized the removal of the provision.
“Extremists in Congress are playing politics with Israeli and Palestinian lives,” the organization tweeted. “Calling to remove funding for a lifesaving defensive system is an affront to our values, risks further conflict, and is counter to the commitment made by Biden and supported by Congressional leadership.”
Ambassador Dennis Ross, the US point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations, tweeted that “blocking funding for Iron Dome may well harm Israelis and Palestinians alike. If Israel cannot protect its citizens from Hamas rockets, it will have to go into Gaza on the ground to prevent them from being fired. In that case, Palestinian and Israeli losses will be much higher.”
Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, defended the Party and told The Jerusalem Post that “the bottom line is that Democrats will ensure that Israel gets this aid.”
“Joe Biden made the commitment to Israel after the latest conflict with Hamas that he would replenish Iron Dome beyond the commitment in the MOU, and it will get done, and Democrats will make sure it gets done," said Soifer. She went on to say that "Democrats have passed aid to Israel numerous times in this Congress, and it will happen again when they vote on a standalone measure later this week."
“Bipartisan support for Israel is eroding,” said Dan Arbell, scholar-in-residence at the Center for Israeli Studies at American University. Arbell previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission at Israel's embassy in Washington DC and worked as Ambassador Michael Oren's second in command from 2009 to 2012.
“Public opinion polls show a consistent decline in Democratic support for Israel and rising support and solidarity with the Palestinians,” he told the Post. “The funding for Iron Dome will go through in the end, but Israel must invest great efforts in widening and deepening the dialogue and contacts with elected officials and constituencies who do not feel a strong bond with Israel, before it’ll be too late.”