Republican Senator delays fast-track funding of Israel’s Iron Dome

Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul wants to redirect money earmarked for Afghan aid to replenish Israel’s missile defense system.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) put brakes on a plan to fast-track funding for Israel’s Iron Dome through the Senate on Thursday.

He was the sole Senator to object to “hotlining” the funding. Hotlining accelerates the legislative process if all 100 Senators agree that a bill passed by the House of Representatives can go straight to the Senate floor for a vote.

Paul, an outspoken critic of US foreign aid in general, was concerned that the $1 billion in funds earmarked for the Israeli missile defense system wasn’t offset by other spending cuts.

Paul’s director of communications, Kelsey Cooper told Politico that the Senator introduced legislation to redirect money earmarked for Afghan aid to the Iron Dome.

“He proposed that we pay for the House bill with money that is going to go to the Taliban,” Cooper said. “I don’t see what’s so controversial to Democrats about taking money from the Taliban to pay for this request.”

Money for the Iron Dome was originally part of a larger federal spending bill, but progressive Democrats led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez forced their party leadership to remove that provision. Failure to pass the spending bill by the end of September would have led to a government shutdown. Republicans opposed the legislation over its changes to the government’s debt ceiling.

That legislation passed the House without the Iron Dome funding. The next day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md) pushed through a separate Iron Dome bill through the House. It passed by an overwhelming 420-9, with Ocasio-Cortez abstaining.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which was developed with funding from the Obama administration, intercepted thousands of rockets fired at Israeli residential areas by Hamas terrorists last spring. During Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s recent visit to Washington, President Joe Biden promised to replenish Israel’s stock of interceptor rockets.