A bipartisan group of senators led by Sens. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Gillibrand11 senators urge House to pass .5T package before infrastructure bill Hochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees 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.
So far, 19 Republicans and 17 Democrats have signed on to the letter, including Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE's vice presidential pick, Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo Panic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B 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 McCainWhoopi Goldberg signs four-year deal with ABC to stay on 'The View' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Meghan McCain: Country has not 'healed' from Trump under Biden 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.
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Democratic signatories include Sens. Gillibrand; Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinDemocrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack This week: Democrats kick off chaotic fall with Biden's agenda at stake MORE (Wis.), Gary C. Peters (Mich.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyWarren, Bush offer bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratorium Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Six Democrats blast Energy Department's uranium reserve pitch MORE (Mass.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellLooking to the past to secure America's clean energy future Democrats demand more action from feds on unruly airline passengers Delta variant's spread hampers Labor Day air travel, industry recovery MORE (Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Charles SchumerChuck SchumerAnti-Trump Republicans on the line in 2022 too Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo Democrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol MORE (N.Y.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money — House pushes toward infrastructure vote Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — EU calls out Russian hacking efforts aimed at member states Why Democrats opposing Biden's tax plan have it wrong MORE (Ore.), Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden, don't punish India Democrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian Biden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict MORE (N.J.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowDemocrats surprised, caught off guard by 'framework' deal Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff MORE (Mich.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetBuild Back Better Act must include funding to restore forests, make communities resilient and create jobs Interior reverses Trump, moves BLM headquarters back to DC Conservation group says it will only endorse Democrats who support .5T spending plan MORE (Colo.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonTechnology is easy but politics is hard for NASA's Lunar Human Landing System Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Climate change turning US into coffee country Elon Musk mocks Biden for ignoring his company's historic space flight MORE (Fla.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerPanic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda Democrats surprised, caught off guard by 'framework' deal Schumer announces Senate-House deal on tax 'framework' for .5T package MORE (Va.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Officials want action on cyberattacks Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook This week: Democrats face mounting headaches MORE (Minn.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDemocrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo House passes bill to ensure abortion access in response to Texas law Democrats surprised, caught off guard by 'framework' deal MORE Jr. (Pa.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinLawmakers say innovation, trade rules key to small business gains The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks House Democrat: Staff is all vaccinated 'because they don't like to be dead' MORE (Md.) and Kaine.