After months of debate, an additional $1 billion for Iron Dome is included in Congress’ must-have 2022 spending bill
WASHINGTON (JTA) — After months of maneuvering more than $1 billion to replace Iron Dome batteries lost to Israel in the Gaza conflict last year, the money is to be included in a spending bill bipartisan debate that Congress will consider this week as it seeks to avoid a government shutdown.
Also included in the $1.5 trillion omnibus appropriations agreement announced early Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is significantly increased funding for the security of nonprofit organizations. lucrative, a key demand from major Jewish groups over the past year.
The House is expected to vote on the bill on Wednesday as interim government funding ends on Friday.
The massive 2,741-page bill makes clear that the $1 billion is in addition to a separate $500 million bill for Israel’s missile defense. The $500 million in funding, negotiated in the final months of President Barack Obama’s administration, is part of a $3.8 billion annual defense assistance package for Israel that has been included in the law.
It comes after progressive Democrats in the House last year insisted on considering funding separately from another massive spending bill, a signal that defense aid for Israel will now come under much scrutiny. stricter in the future.
Despite this heated debate, the House then overwhelmingly approved the $1 billion standalone amount for additional Iron Dome spending in September. The Senate was also close to passing it when only one senator – a Republican this time, Rand Paul of Kentucky – used his prerogative to delay the bill.
The bill also increases funding for the nonprofit security from $180 million to $250 million, an increase that Jewish groups have been clamoring for, particularly after hostages were taken at a Texas synagogue in January. At least two bills are asking for further increases: Reps. Benny Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and John Katko, a Republican from New York, last week asked the committee to approve a bill that would increase funding for the security grants portion of the security increase to $500 million.
In the Senate on Tuesday, speaking to Charlie Cytron-Walker, the rabbi who saw his followers through the hostage crisis, Republican Senator Ted Cruz said he would introduce legislation to increase funding to $540 million.
The Orthodox Union, Jewish Federations of North America and Agudath Israel of America are all longtime supporters of the program.
“We will work with the bipartisan champions of this program to ensure it continues to grow until there are enough funds to secure every vulnerable synagogue, church, mosque and nonprofit facility,” said Eric Fingerhut, CEO of Jewish Federations of North America. in a report.
Other funding backed by Jewish groups in the omnibus includes $6 million to help elderly Holocaust survivors and $5 million to streamline and improve hate crime tracking.
In addition to keeping government open, there’s added urgency this year as the omnibus bill includes nearly $14 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine as the country fends off a Russian invasion. Schumer, who is Jewish, called the situation in Ukraine “a Holocaust” Tuesday.
Jewish groups will also support aid to Ukraine. “As someone who came to the United States as a refugee from Ukraine, I can testify to the importance and importance of supporting refugees in times of crisis,” said Elana Broitman, vice president of public affairs at the JFNA.
Spending bills are exempt from some of the Senate rules that can get in the way of other bills: they need a simple majority of 51, not the filibuster-proof 60 votes, and no senator can hold them back. Additionally, Schumer tapped Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to help shape the bill in hopes of gaining bipartisan support.