House votes to strengthen ties with Israel, sends bill to Obama

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The House late Tuesday afternoon approved legislation by voice vote that reaffirms U.S. strategic and military ties with Israel. 

The bill restates the U.S. commitment to supply Israel with arms to defend itself, and pledges to fight anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.

The United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, S. 2165, is an amended version of a House bill that was approved back in May. The Senate before approving the bill in late June added language that extends the authority of the United States to store weapons in Israel that it could give to Israel in an emergency. 

The bill also calls on the United States to produce an "Iron Dome" defense system for Israel, to intercept short-range missiles and to study how the United States could speed the sale of F-35 fighter planes to Israel.


The pro-Israel legislation easily passed in May, and despite obvious support for the bill, members reaffirmed their support for it in debate Tuesday.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who are fighting on a range of issues this year, both spoke in strong support of the bill and stressed their ongoing commitment to thwart Iran's efforts to undermine Israel.

"Today ... we will send this bipartisan bill to the president and deliver the message that during this pivotal and dangerous period in the Middle East, the United States stands tall for our ally Israel," Cantor said.

"Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons, as it would dramatically destabilize the region, and Iran's leaders have already threatened American targets in that part of the world," Hoyer said.

Members of the House also approved legislation by voice vote that would require the State Department to report on whether the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan should be designated as a terrorist organization. That bill, S. 1959, was approved after the House amended it to make it clear that the Congress recommends a terrorist designation for the group.

The addition of that language will send it back to the Senate, which approved the first version in December.