The US House of Representatives narrowly passed a stopgap spending bill overnight, dropping planned funding of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
The temporary spending plan was approved 220 to 211 along party lines, with House Democrats backing the bill and Republicans uniting against it.
The bill will now go to the Senate for approval, though no timetable has been set for a vote in the upper chamber. With the Senate divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, Democratic leaders will have to convince at least ten Republican senators to cross party lines and support the bill - or use a legislative maneuver known as "reconciliation" to avoid the 60-vote requirement usually needed to prevent a filibuster.
Congress must pass a new spending bill, including raising the limit on the federal government’s borrowing limit, by the end of the current fiscal year on September 30th, or face a partial government shutdown beginning in October.
Republican lawmakers have decried plans to raise the debt ceiling to $28.4 trillion, and have criticized the $3.5 trillion spending plan, which congressional Democrats have tried to pass together with the debt limit bill.
The stopgap bill approved overnight by the House would ensure funding until December 3rd, by which time House leaders hope a deal can be reached for a full spending plan covering the coming fiscal year.
In order to pass the bill funding the government through December, however, leading House Democrats dropped one billion dollars in planned spending which would have restocked Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, in keeping with the Biden administration’s vow to help the Jewish state maintain its defense network against incoming rocket and missile attacks.
Democrat Rosa DeLauro (CT), who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, announced overnight that the aid to Israel had been cut from the temporary spending bill.
“The earlier version of the legislation included an anomaly to the continuing resolution to provide funding for the government of Israel related to the Iron Dome. The version before you does not contain that anomaly,” DeLauro said.
“Let me explain why: The production of the Iron Dome system component is at full capacity and it can take 12 to 18 months from when funding is appropriated until it is received by Israel.”
“The Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Israel lays out a co-production agreement for funds in the annual spending bill for Israeli cooperative programs.”
DeLauro vowed that the US would “fully live up” to its commitments to Israel at a later date.
The move comes after a number of Democratic lawmakers threatened to vote against any spending bill which included military aid to Israel.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer spoke Tuesday night with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, promising that the aid budgeted for Iron Dome will be transferred soon.