WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic and Republican members of Congress scrambled Tuesday to seal a $225 million boost to Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system before they break this week for a month-long recess.
As the Gaza war escalates, Israel is proving to be among the few subjects uniting lawmakers. Members of both parties have introduced legislation backing the Jewish state, condemning the Palestinian militant group Hamas and seeking a tougher Iran policy. Iron Dome is the priority, but the House and Senate are at odds over process.
No money for Israel is included in a larger House spending bill focused on border security, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the Appropriations Committee chairman, said Tuesday. He said military support for Israel would be addressed separately, and senior congressional aides said that could happen this week.
The GOP-led House's approach is at odds with the Democratic-controlled Senate, which wants the Iron Dome money approved with border security and wildfire assistance in a single package before lawmakers take their break on Thursday or Friday.
Israel escalated its operations against Hamas on Tuesday as the conflict entered its fourth week. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a "prolonged" campaign.
Amid a daily barrage of Palestinian rocket fire, Iron Dome has been credited with knocking hundreds out of the sky. Even as the Obama administration presses for a cease-fire, it has backed Israel's request to replenish its missile defense stockpiles while it is fighting, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asking Congress to approve the measure.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he supported Hagel's request because Iron Dome "has afforded Israel some protection from indiscriminate rockets."
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