Tim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense

Tim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense
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A bipartisan group of senators led by Sens. Mark KirkMark Steven Kirk10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable GOP senator says he doesn't remember signing 2016 letter urging 'reform' of Ukraine prosecutor's office The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Ill.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Gillibrand2020 Presidential Candidates Krystal Ball: Yang campaign a 'triumph of substance over the theatre' Three 2020 candidates have missed about half of Senate votes MORE (D-N.Y.) is urging that an additional $320 million for Israeli missile defense be added to a defense bill.  

"Amid growing rocket and missile threats in the Middle East, it is prudent for the United States and Israel to advance and accelerate bilateral cooperation on missile defense technologies," the senators said in a letter to the Armed Services Committee chairmen that was first obtained by The Hill. 

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So far, 19 Republicans and 17 Democrats have signed on to the letter, including Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSaagar Enjeti: Tuesday's Democratic debate already 'rigged' against Gabbard, Sanders Ilhan Omar raises .1 million in third quarter Bloomberg rethinking running for president: report MORE's vice presidential pick, Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael Kaine2020 general election debates announced Senators call for Trump administration to testify on Syria Schumer: Transcript 'absolutely validates' Trump impeachment inquiry MORE (D-Va.). 

The proposed increase, of $319.9 million, would go toward three U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs and more purchases of Iron Dome systems, which would include co-production of the systems in the U.S. 

The senators are urging their colleagues, who are working with House members on a final version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to include the funding levels authorized by the House's bill, rather than the Senate's. 

The House bill authorizes $600.7 million for research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) and procurement of the systems, while the Senate bill authorizes $280.8 million.  

The difference is that the House bill fully authorizes funding requests by Israel on RDT&E, procurement of the Iron Dome system, and the Arrow weapon, upper tier, or Arrow 3, and David's Sling programs, while the Senate bill would authorize $29.9 million less for RDT&E and $290 million less for procurement. 

Senators and House members are working to mesh the two authorization bills together and produce a conference report to send to both chambers for approval before sending it to the president's desk. 

"We believe that fully funding U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs at $601 million, as funded by the House-passed NDAA, is a level that will allow Israel to fully meet its national security requirements," the senators wrote to conference chairmen Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Video depicting Trump killing media, critics draws backlash Backlash erupts at video depicting Trump killing media, critics Cindy McCain condemns video of fake Trump shooting political opponents, late husband MORE (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). 

"We urge you to work in a bicameral, bipartisan manner to find a satisfactory solution to fully fund these U.S.-Israel programs," they wrote. 

The Iron Dome system is designed to intercept short-range rockets between two and 45 miles that fired at population centers from the Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon or the Sinai Peninsula. 

The Arrow weapon system is an anti-ballistic missile program aimed at defending against imminent and emerging missile threats while also providing data and technology that advances U.S. missile defense programs, the letter said. 

David's Sling, which complements Iron Dome and Arrow, provides enhanced defense from large-caliber artillery rockets, tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. 

"These joint U.S.-Israel programs continue to yield critical defense capabilities that protect Israel from missile and rocket threats from as near as the Gaza Strip and Lebanon to as far as Iran," the senators wrote. 

"As you know, investments over the years in U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs have saved the lives of countless civilians from indiscriminate rocket and missile attacks," they wrote. 

Signatories so far include Republican Sens. Kirk, Marco RubioMarco Antonio Rubio10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable George Conway hits Republicans for not saying Trump's name while criticizing policy Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria MORE (Fla.), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (N.H.), David VitterDavid Bruce VitterLouisiana Republicans score big legislative wins Trump calls on Republicans to vote out Democratic Louisiana governor amid GOP infighting Grocery group hires new top lobbyist MORE (La.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGOP braces for impeachment brawl Republicans wrestle with impeachment strategy McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows MORE (Colo.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals Trump to award Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese Trump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom MORE (Utah), Roger F. Wicker (Miss.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTillis says impeachment is 'a waste of resources' GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising MORE (N.C.), James M. Inhofe (Okla.), David A. Perdue (Ga.), James E. Risch (Idaho), Lisa Murkoswki (Alaska), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Lawmakers return to work as Dem candidates set to debate Cruz: 'Of course' it's not appropriate to ask China to investigate Bidens Sunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria MORE (Texas), Steve Daines (Mont.); Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable GOP braces for impeachment brawl Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria MORE (Maine), John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanVA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal There is a severe physician shortage and it will only worsen MORE (Ark.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonJoe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia Poll: Majority of independent voters want GOP to retain control of Senate in 2020 Embracing President Mike Pence might be GOP's best play MORE (Ga.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottBlood cancer patients deserve equal access to the cure Rand Paul: 'We deserve to know' identity of Trump whistleblower Bottom Line MORE (N.C.) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneImpeachment threatens to drown out everything Republicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   Embracing President Mike Pence might be GOP's best play MORE (S.D.). 

Democratic signatories include Sens. Gillibrand; Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinFederal funding for Chinese buses risks our national security Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall The Trump downturn: Trouble ahead for the US economy MORE (Wis.), Gary C. Peters (Mich.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Ocasio-Cortez taps supporters for donations as former primary opponent pitches for Kennedy Rep. Joe Kennedy has history on his side in Senate bid MORE (Mass.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellZuckerberg defends meetings with conservative politicians, pundits Democrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Hillicon Valley: Trump official declines to testify on trade protections for tech | Senators call for better info-sharing on supply chain threats | Apple pulls app after Chinese pressure MORE (Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' MORE (N.Y.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Bipartisan senators want federal plan for sharing more info on supply chain threats PhRMA CEO warns Pelosi bill to lower drug prices would be 'devastating' for industry MORE (Ore.), Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezRand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter Senators ask Treasury to probe Brazilian meatpacker with major US footprint Top Foreign Relations Democrat calls on Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters MORE (N.J.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowUSDA nixes release of multiple reports over researcher exodus Schumer throws support behind Pelosi impeachment inquiry Senate Democrats hesitant to go all-in on impeachment probe MORE (Mich.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand Bennet2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the October showdown The Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate 2020 Presidential Candidates MORE (Colo.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonBottom Line Bottom Line Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (Fla.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerZuckerberg defends meetings with conservative politicians, pundits Senators take fundraising efforts to Nats playoff games Senate Intelligence report triggers new calls for action on election security MORE (Va.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Analysis: Warren and Booker most cyber-aware 2020 candidates Poll: Democratic support for Warren climbs to record high MORE (Minn.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyHere are the Senate Democrats backing a Trump impeachment inquiry over Ukraine call Ex-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate MORE Jr. (Pa.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenate Democrats aim to repeal rules blocking Trump tax law workarounds Congress briefed on Iran after Saudi oil attacks Senate Democrats hesitant to go all-in on impeachment probe MORE (Md.) and Kaine.