Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky on Monday blocked a Senate effort to fast-track $1 billion in emergency Iron Dome missile defense system funding to Israel.
According to a report in Haaretz, Paul objected to Sen. Bob Menendez's efforts to pass the Iron Dome bill, which passed the House last week, via unanimous consent.
"There is no conceivable reason why anyone in this chamber on either side of the aisle should stand in the way of US support for this life-saving defense to be fully ready for the next attack," Menendez was quoted as having said. "I strongly urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join the House of Representatives in passing this funding as a broadly bipartisan effort."
Paul argued that the Iron Dome funding should come from proposed assistance to Afghanistan. He noted that he, along with his fellow Senate Republicans that "this is clear to all the Republicans, so it needs to be very clear today that Republicans support paying for Iron Dome — and they support paying for Iron Dome with taking away money that would go to the Taliban."
Menendez rejected Paul's arguments as a problematic "fig leaf," arguing that they would create a domino effect of negative results for broader US foreign policy and national security interests.
Following Paul's move, it is now up to Democratic leadership to schedule a vote at their leisure, which could be in the next several days or weeks.
The House of Representatives two weeks ago overwhelmingly approved the Iron Dome funding bill by a vote of 420-9.
The House-passed bill was brought up as a “hotline” for both parties, a process that requires the consent of all 100 senators in order for the bill to hit the Senate floor immediately for a vote.
The bill was introduced after far-left Democratic Congressmen got a provision providing $1 billion for resupply of Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system removed from an emergency government funding bill.
Paul has blocked US military aid to Israel in the past. In 2018, he put a hold on the US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018, which codifies into law the $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over 10 years that was negotiated in the final days of the Obama administration.
In 2011, Paul was one of only two GOP senators who withheld their signatures from a letter by 11 GOP senators who have vowed continued financial support for Israel.