Democrats to nix $1B for Israel’s Iron Dome from bill to avert shutdown
House Democrats will remove a provision originally included in a bill that would have helped boost Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system in order to keep the federal government funded through Dec. 3.
Democratic leaders are removing the provision from the bill, which was unveiled Tuesday morning, after some progressives objected, according to sources familiar with the last-minute snag.
Democrats are still planning to bring the legislation to the House floor later Tuesday. Congress must act within a matter of days to avoid a government shutdown when current funding expires at the end of this month.
A spokesperson for House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said that funding for the Iron Dome “will be included in the final, bipartisan and bicameral” defense funding bill later this year.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), a leading centrist, expressed frustration that the Iron Dome funding was being removed but stopped short of threatening to vote against the bill.
“The Iron Dome protects innocent civilians in Israel from terrorist attacks and some of my colleagues have now blocked funding it,” Gottheimer tweeted. “We must stand by our historic ally — the only democracy in the Middle East.”
The snag over Iron Dome funding comes as Democratic centrists and progressives are at odds over the timing and scope of President Biden’s infrastructure agenda. Moderates demanded a pledge from Democratic leaders last month to hold a vote by next Monday on the $1.2 trillion Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill to invest in roads, bridges and broadband initiatives.
But progressives have threatened to tank that bill if the larger, $3.5 trillion “human” infrastructure package to invest in social safety net programs such as child care and expanded Medicare benefits isn’t completed by then. That bill is being considered under the budget reconciliation process, which will allow Democrats to circumvent a GOP filibuster in the Senate.
The stopgap measure set for a vote later Tuesday would keep the government funded through Dec. 3, meaning that lawmakers will still have to complete work on long-term spending bills for the fiscal year.
The bill would also suspend the debt limit through December 2022. Republicans have vowed to oppose any measure to suspend the debt limit as a form of protest against Democrats’ reconciliation bill and argue the issue should be resolved without their help, even though they say they don’t want the nation to default on its debt obligations.
The bill to keep the government funded and suspend the debt limit also includes $28.6 billion to address recent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Ida, which left damage in its wake in Louisiana and up the East Coast.
The move may draw the support of some GOP lawmakers, but two Louisiana Republicans who serve in House leadership — Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Rep. Mike Johnson — are urging their party to oppose the bill when it hits the floor later on Tuesday.
A notice from House GOP leadership to Republican lawmakers states that “Republicans will not aid the Democrats in their socialist tax and spending spree.”
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), meanwhile, has said he’ll “probably” vote for the package “because my state needs the help.”
Democrats point to the fact that they supported measures to suspend the debt limit while former President Trump was in office and argue that Republicans should work to avoid a debt default on a bipartisan basis as they have in the past.
Mike Lillis contributed.
Updated 2:14 p.m.