Senior Dem backs funding boost for Israel’s Iron Dome

The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday endorsed a Senate proposal to provide additional $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense program.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is set to unveil a $2.7 billion emergency spending bill primarily geared toward addressing the ongoing crisis of undocumented children along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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The measure includes additional money for the Iron Dome rocket defense system, funded by the U.S., which has intercepted thousands of missiles fired into Israel by Hamas fighters in recent days.

“The only thing that stands between Israel and a barrage of Hamas rockets is the Iron Dome. We should ensure that Israel has the ability to utilize the Iron Dome and protect innocent civilians from rocket attacks during this crisis and into the future,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a statement. “I will work with my colleagues in Congress to get this request approved.”

Mikulski’s panel, along with House appropriators and the Armed Services Committee, have all doubled the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2015 budget request for the Iron Dome system to $351 million.

Smith touted that the House draft of the 2015 defense authorization bill, which passed the full chamber in June, contains more than $600 million in funding for various Israeli missile defense systems, including Iron Dome. The Senate has yet to take up its version of the Pentagon policy blueprint.

“For too long the people of Israel have lived under the threat of missiles falling out of the sky at any moment. We should help them protect themselves from that threat. Congress should approve this funding as quickly as possible,” Smith said.

He added that is was his "firm belief that both the Israeli and the Palestinian people want peace. The United States should continue to stay focused on brokering a peace agreement so the suffering in Gaza and Israel can come to an end.”