It's Not Actually About the Iron Dome

“House Democrats remove Iron Dome funding from upcoming budget”

“House Democrats strip funds for Iron Dome from bill to raise debt ceiling”

After reading some of the headlines from early last week you’d be forgiven for thinking that House Democrats had taken a drastic step away from supporting an additional $1 billion replenishment to this crucial Israeli missile defense system the US supports with $500 million annually. The reports on the events in Israel were even more alarmist. But what actually happened? The reality is that the headlines and events of last week were the result of a right-wing messaging campaign around what was in reality a reasonable procedural request.

Early Tuesday morning of last week, the House released the final text of the Continuing Resolution (CR) to avoid a partial government shutdown at the end of September. Washington often operates on political brinkmanship, and as the deadline to avert a shutdown was fast approaching, the CR was intended to be “clean” from any extraneous articles. Continuing Resolutions are traditionally as straightforward and as simple to pass as possible to keep the government functioning, which was what this CR was understood to be. However, sometime between late that Monday night and Tuesday morning when it was introduced, a $1 billion Iron Dome replenishment provision had been slipped in by leadership at the 11th hour without the awareness of the caucus.

APN has long supported Iron Dome funding, and we also support this supplemental $1 billion for Iron Dome. But it bears repeating here as even criticism of the procedure itself has been twisted to imply a lack of support for Iron Dome and Israel as a whole.

Obviously, Iron Dome assistance has absolutely nothing to do with keeping the proverbial lights on in the government. It’s still unclear as to why, out of all things, a supplemental aid package to Israel needed to be added to a must-pass government funding bill. Had this come to the floor, it would have put members of Congress in the position of having to choose between a government shutdown or having to vote for this massive assistance package without the opportunity to even debate the issue, essentially holding the government hostage to Iron Dome funding. Understandably, there were objections to attaching the aid to must-pass government funding without giving it due consideration and, as such, it was stripped from the CR and introduced as stand-alone legislation –spurring a number of alarmist reactions on twitter and in the media. To paint Democrats as being anti-Israel simply for asking for one hour of debate and a stand-alone vote on the matter defies logic.

The stand-alone Iron Dome funding came up for a vote on last Thursday and the final vote count was 420 yes, 9 no (one of which came from a Republican) and 2 present.

Of course, the House of Representatives is just one half of the equation.

Earlier this week it came out that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is preventing the Senate from taking up an expedited vote on Iron Dome funding by “hotlining” it. Hotlining is a Senate procedure that allows non-controversial legislation to skip the normal pathways to floor consideration, provided that it would receive unanimous approval and no senators object. Senator Paul has made it clear that he opposes the supplemental aid itself, not just the expedited procedure.

Unlike the hysterical reporting around House Democrats last week, there are no sensationalist headlines and no apocalyptic tweets about the Republican party abandoning Israel.

The reality is that the reporting on what happened in the House last week feeds into a broader disingenuous narrative that has succeeded in demonizing anyone who opposes the status quo. It is both factually and morally right that Democrats question and challenge certain elements of the US-Israel relationship that have been taken for granted, including requesting a normal procedural vote on an additional 1 billion taxpayer dollars. This doesn’t mean that Democrats have abandoned Israel and neither does speaking out against the occupation. Sycophantic blind loyalty while the conflict rots Israel from the inside out poses a bigger threat to the future of the state than any hour-long procedural debate.


By: Madeleine Cereghino, Director of Government Relations