October 5 (WNN) — Republican Senator Rand Paul blocked the Senate from voting on a bill to finance Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which was overwhelmingly passed by the House late last month.
The bill allocated $1 billion to replenish Israel’s missile defense system after it intercepted thousands of rockets fired toward its population from Gaza amid renewed fighting with Hamas and other Palestinian militants in May.
The House passed the bill 420 to 9 on 23 September with a vote of the two MPs present.
The bill was originally included in legislation related to raising the debt limit and funding the government, but was dropped over concerns that the entire initiative would fail amid pushback on Israel’s funding by Progressive Democrats. The bill to fund the Iron Dome was then automatically introduced.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D.N.J., who also chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for the bill to be passed expeditiously, but Paul resisted on Monday, with $6 billion allocated to rebuilding Afghanistan. An amendment was filed to repeal it, with $1 billion paid to refill Israel’s system and the remainder returned to the Treasury.
Kentucky Republicans argued from the floor that if the United States doesn’t revoke that money, it could end up in the hands of the Taliban, who took control of the Middle Eastern country in August amid a US military withdrawal.
He also argued that only an economically strong country can protect its allies.
“I’m glad the United States has a strong bond with Israel,” he said from the floor. “But the United States can’t give money it doesn’t have, no matter how strong our relationship is.”
Menendez rejected the amendment to the House bill, but in doing so Paul stymied his aim to pass the bill with only two hours of arguments instead of lengthy proceedings.
Democrats from New Jersey called Paul’s amendment “problematic” that would “expose a range of adverse consequences” for US foreign policy and national security purposes.
The amendment, he explained, would nullify funding from both the state and defense departments and that none of it was to go to Taliban-controlled governments.
“Sen. Paul’s amendment would really attack funding that provides life-saving humanitarian aid to the Afghan people and they need it more than ever,” Menendez said. “In short, Sen. Paul’s amendment will undermine national security, it will leave the Afghan people at their worst and it will betray the commitment of the American people to support our Afghan allies.”
The bill is highly expected to be passed by the Senate, but now it will have to go through a lengthy bureaucratic process.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a bipartisan American organization that advocates for US-Israel relations, accused Paul of engaging in Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan as well as Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massey of Kentucky, who strongly opposed the House bill and was among nine lawmakers who voted against it, while Ocasio-Cortez voted.
“Their motives to finance the Iron Dome undermine Israel’s security, take innocent lives, make war more likely and encourage Iran-backed terrorists,” the AIPCA said. via twitter.
Menendez said the only reason the bill didn’t pass is because of Paul’s amendment.
“I am disappointed that we are in this position,” he said.
The bill was proposed in the wake of renewed and brutal fighting between Israel and Gaza militants in response to Israel’s attempt to forcibly displace Palestinian families from their East Jerusalem homes.
Israeli defense forces said militants fired about 4,400 rockets at its population, about 90% of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.
The fighting resulted in the deaths of 256 Palestinians, including 66 children and 12 Israelis.