Jewish groups, Israeli officials praise House passage of Iron Dome funds

The US House of Representatives approved a package that included $1 billion for Iron Dome replenishment.

The chamber of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington [File] (photo credit: REUTERS)
The chamber of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington [File]
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Jewish groups and Israeli officials on Thursday welcomed the passage of a new omnibus bill.

The House voted late on Wednesday to approve a package that included $1 billion for Iron Dome replenishment and $250 million for the nonprofit security grant program (NSGP). The package comprises all 12 fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills and supplemental funding to support Ukraine and manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

House majority leader Steny Hoyer tweeted, “Proud to support robust funding to replenish and enhance Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in the omnibus passed by the House tonight, a critical tool for Israel to defend its people against terrorist rocket attacks.”

AIPAC tweeted, “A strong Israel makes America more secure. This critical assistance helps ensure our ally has the resources needed to defend itself against growing threats. Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli and Palestinian lives and helps prevent war.”

Orthodox Union president Mark Bane said in a statement, “It is our duty and obligation as Jews to do all we can to ensure that we safeguard our community in America and around the world in this time of great need.

“The provisions in this federal legislation will go a long way toward protecting our communities in the United States and in Israel, and will provide relief to those suffering in Ukraine. We thank our elected leaders for this important work on behalf of so many, and we urge all parties to bring these measures to fruition without delay,” he said.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz praised the decision on Twitter and in statements to the media.

“Thank you to the US 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, writing, “Thank you for your leadership [and] friendship. Together, we are stronger.”

Gantz also thanked Biden, Congress and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin as well as Democratic politicians House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Stanley Hoyer.

“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.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides wrote, “Next the Senate will vote (which will happen soon) and then it’s off to the President’s desk for signature. Our unbreakable bond!!”

The Iron Dome funding had been stalled for six months. Last September, the House of Representatives approved a standalone bill to provide Israel with $1b. for replenishing the anti-missile system. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority: 420 members voted in favor of the bill, and only nine voted against it.

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 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, provide support mechanisms to eligible nonprofit organizations, and simplify and streamline the application process. It would also increase congressional oversight of the program.