October 04, 2021

Senate Republicans Block Iron Dome Funding

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today took to the Floor to formally request the Unanimous Consent of the Senate to immediately approve funding for Israel’s missile defense program known as Iron Dome. The motion, which follows an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives, was blocked by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), preventing $1 billion in new funding for the Iron Dome program.

“Iron Dome is a purely defensive system that protects civilians. It saves lives, regardless of religion or ethnicity. Period,” Senator Menendez said. “Furthermore, by saving those lives, Iron Dome also preserves diplomatic space for de-escalation, communication, and further negotiations about Israeli and Palestinian long term security and the future of a negotiated two-state solution. There is no conceivable reason why anyone in this chamber, on either side of the aisle, should stand in the way of U.S. support for this life-saving defense to be fully ready for the next attack.”

In addition to condemning Senator Paul’s dangerous appropriations counteroffer to try to shift away life-saving humanitarian aid and Afghan refugee assistance to pay for the Iron Dome funding, Senator Menendez also debunked the Republicans’ claim that he was trying to prevent U.S. foreign aid from reaching the Taliban. 

“Let me be clear, and echo what the Administration has said: No U.S. foreign aid will go to a Taliban-controlled Afghan government. This does not mean that we remain any less committed to supporting the Afghan people. On the contrary, U.S. humanitarian aid could be routed through highly-vetted partners like the World Food Program that we trust to put the interests of the Afghan people first,” Senator Menendez added. “Senator Paul's amendment would undermine U.S. national security, it would abandon the Afghan people in their darkest hour, and it would betray the American people's commitment to supporting our Afghan allies.”

Find a copy of Chairman Menendez’s full remarks as delivered below.

“Madam President, in May of this year, terrorists groups in Gaza launched more than four thousand rockets at innocent Israelis.

For 11 days, Hamas and others fired off thousands of various rocket systems with little guidance into heavily populated areas across Israel with no regard, indeed, likely with the intention, of killing civilians.

In the face of this barrage, once again, Israel deployed the Iron Dome Missile Defense system, which intercepted 90 percent of these incoming attacks.

Because of this purely defensive system, Israel is able to protect its own citizens, and also direct its response to more carefully target those in Gaza who are responsible for launching this brutal attack.

Now I have been clear: We should all mourn the loss of the innocent Israelis and Palestinians who were killed during this conflict. Beyond a lack of regard for innocent Israeli civilians, Hamas further endangers Palestinians by hiding their stockpiles and themselves in densely populated areas.

I’m not here today to re-litigate thousands of years of conflict.

I’m here to point out two simple facts: Hamas as a terrorist organization that routinely threatens innocent civilians.

Iron Dome is a purely defensive system that protects civilians. It saves lives, regardless of religion or ethnicity. Period.

Furthermore, by saving those lives, Iron Dome also preserves diplomatic space for de-escalation, communication, and further negotiations about Israeli and Palestinian long term security and the future of a negotiated two-state solution.

There is no conceivable reason why anyone in this chamber, on either side of the aisle, should stand in the way of U.S. support for this life-saving defense to be fully ready for the next attack.

I strongly urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join the House of Representatives in passing this funding in a broadly bipartisan effort.”

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