A last-ditch effort to deliver aid to Israel during its war with Hamas died on the Senate floor, as Republicans blocked the proposal over concerns that it would increase the debt.
After Senate Republicans blocked Democrats’ $2.7 billion border aid package, which also included $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and $615 million to fight Western wildfires, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to split off the Israel and wildfire money as a standalone bill, hoping to put aside the dispute over border funding and appeal to Republicans’ deep ties to Israel.
“We’ve all watched as the tiny state of Israel, who is with us on everything, they have had in the last three weeks 3,000 rockets filed into their country,” Reid said. “Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asked for $225 million in emergency funding so that Israel’s arsenal as it relates to the Iron Dome could be replenished. It’s clear that is an emergency, and we should be able to agree on that.”
It didn’t work.
Even though GOP leaders had vowed to pass an Israel aid bill in recent days, Republicans rejected Reid’s request. First Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) objected to Reid’s request for a straight emergency cash infusion for firefighting and Israel. Then Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) offered an alternative that would deliver money to Israel and the West and offer commensurate spending cuts to international organizations like the United Nations; Reid blocked that.
“Our number one ally — at least in my mind — is under attack. If this isn’t an emergency I don’t know anything that is,” Reid said.
“I want to fund Israel,” replied Coburn. “I also want to make sure our children have a future.”
The stumble on delivering $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which is used to shoot down rockets aimed at Israel, infuriated GOP hawks who’d been pushing Reid to break the Israel funding from the border bill.
“It’s an important moment for the Senate and the House to show support for Israel. All I can say that if you don’t see the need to come to Israel’s aid now, and the message that it would send now, it would be a big mistake,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “Any person who thinks that the Iron Dome is unnecessary needs to go to the floor and tell us why, why we don’t need to help Israel right now. They’re asking for our help, they’re our best friend in the region, one of our best friends in the world. “