AOC, ‘Squad’ force Dems to cut $1B for Iron Dome from spending bill

AOC, 'Squad' force Dems to cut $1B for Iron Dome from spending bill

A group of far-left lawmakers — including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) — forced House Democratic leadership Tuesday to cut $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome from a short-term government funding bill.

The language was stripped from a continuing resolution that would keep the federal lights on through early December after the “Squad” members threatened to withhold their support for the bill if the provision wasn’t axed.

Moderate House Democrats slammed their progressive colleagues for their anti-Israel stance, arguing that the Iron Dome is not an offensive weapon but rather a defense mechanism meant to shield civilians from rocket attacks by Islamist militant groups.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee who has worked at the Pentagon and the CIA, tweeted that removing the funding language from the legislation was “devoid of substance and irresponsible.”

Several far-left lawmakers were able to get funding for Israel's Iron Dome taken from the  government funding bill.
Several far-left lawmakers were able to get funding for Israel’s Iron Dome taken from the government funding bill.
Photo by ANAS BABA/AFP via Getty Images

“Iron Dome is a purely *defensive* system — it protects civilians when hundreds of rockets are shot at population centers,” she wrote. “Whatever your views on the Israeli-Pal[estinian] conflict, using a system that just saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives as a political chit is problematic.”

Slotkin added that the $1 billion at issue “isn’t new funding, or unusual funding, or a precipitous increase in funding.

“All of this is publicly-available information,” she concluded. “So to target Iron Dome now means the issue isn’t a genuine concern over the system, but rather the desire to attack something – anything – related to the State of Israel; it’s devoid of substance and irresponsible.”

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), a leading centrist, echoed Slotkin’s sentiments.

“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.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) tweeted that it was critical to provide support to Israel due to its recent change in government.

The push to cut the Iron Dome's funding came from "Squad" legislators including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The push to cut the Iron Dome’s funding came from “Squad” legislators including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

“4400 rockets were fired against Israel last spring. Iron Dome defended Israel, saving lives on both sides of the border. The U.S. stood by Israel then, and we stand with Israel now. I supported Iron Dome funding in the CR. I will make sure that Iron Dome is funded this year,” he said in a statement.

“Israel has a new government with the broadest imaginable governing coalition, including Arab parties. Israelis and Palestinians are talking to each other again. The Abraham Accords are changing the dynamic of the entire region. All progress starts with and depends on security. And security relies on Iron Dome funding.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters that the Iron Dome funding would be added to the annual defense spending bill, which will be considered separately from the continuing resolution.

“The United States must fully live up to our commitments to our friend and our ally, Israel,” DeLauro said. 

Republicans were quick to seize on the move, accusing Democrats of turning their back on the Jewish state. 

“While Dems capitulate to the antisemitic influence of their radical members, Republicans will always stand with Israel,” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) tweeted that Democrats “do NOT support Israel. Instead they choose to side with the Hamas Caucus wing of their Party.

“Republicans strongly support our ally Israel and #IronDome funding,” she added.

Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement that he was “appalled” by the Democrats’ move. 

“Just a few months ago, Israel was attacked by over 4,000 rockets launched by Hamas,” he said. “The Iron Dome saved lives and helped limit civilian casualties during this terrifying escalation. There is strong bipartisan support to supply our friend and ally Israel with the tools to defend itself against future threats and I would urge Democrat leaders to reconsider this dangerous decision.”

The Iron Dome defense system has been used to protect Israelis from Hamas rocket attacks.
The Iron Dome defense system has been used to protect Israelis from Hamas rocket attacks.
Photo by JALAA MAREY/AFP via Getty Images

While all of the “Squad” members have voiced criticism of Israel in the past, Omar has a history of particularly anti-Semitic rhetoric.

In 2019, she tweeted that the relationship between the United States and Israel is “all about the Benjamins.” When pressed on who she thought was paying American politicians to support Israel, Omar replied “AIPAC,” referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. 

Omar later deleted the tweet and offered an apology, as well as thanks to her colleagues “who are educating me on the powerful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”

In June of this year, Omar tweeted that “[w]e have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” an equivalence which caused an uproar among colleagues who urged her to “clarify” her statement. 

Omar initially responded by accusing her fellow Democrats of using “islamophobic tropes.” In a subsequent statement, the lawmaker claimed she “was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”

Despite walking back her statement, Omar told CNN in a late June interview she did not regret making the initial comment and claimed that those colleagues who criticized her “haven’t been partners in justice. They haven’t been, you know, equally engaging in seeking justice around the world.”

The dispute over the Iron Dome funding came just ahead of the vote on the short-term spending bill, which faces an uphill battle in the Senate due to its language to increase the federal government’s spending limit.

Top Republicans have asserted the measure does not have the support to pass the upper chamber.

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