Lawmakers’ opposition to funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system has resurfaced following Hamas’ attack against Israel, which began on Saturday.
Hamas fired rockets at Israel while dozens of fighters infiltrated its border by air, land and sea in areas near the Gaza Strip Saturday morning, marking an escalation of the longstanding Israel-Palestinian conflict. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a televised address on Saturday that Israel was now at war, launching its own attacks against Hamas in Gaza, as Israeli authorities have blocked the transfer of food, fuel, water and medications into Gaza.
According to the Associated Press, the Israeli military has said at least 900 people have been killed in Israel, while an estimated 700 people have been killed in Gaza since the fighting began on Saturday.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have voted against funding for Israel’s Iron Dome in recent years. Iron Dome is Israel’s missile defense system that is capable of defending the country against short-range rockets. The U.S., which has provided billions of dollars to Israel, has also provided funding for the defense system.
Iron Dome funding was last brought up for a vote in 2021 when Congress overwhelmingly voted to appropriate an additional $1 billion to the defense system. However, some members of Congress opposed the funding. Eight Democrats and one Republican in the House voted against the funding, while one Senate Republican blocked a vote on funding for months.
Which Republicans Voted Against Iron Dome Funding?
House Republican Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky voted against the funding. He told Newsweek on Tuesday that his vote was related to fiscal concerns surrounding the bill.
“My position of ‘no foreign aid’ might sound extreme to some, but I think it’s extreme to bankrupt our country and put future generations of Americans in hock to our creditors,” Massie said in a statement.
He also explained his vote in an August 5, 2022, statement on X, formerly Twitter, writing: “Israel receives $3.8 billion of foreign aid from hard working American taxpayers each year. That vote was to send them another (unbudgeted) $1 billion. A majority of my constituents don’t think Israel needs more of their money, so I voted for my constituents.”
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, blocked a vote from passing the funding by unanimous consent four times. While he supported funding for Iron Dome, he believed the funding should have come from a $6 billion package previously appropriated for Afghanistan.
A spokesperson for Paul told Newsweek on Monday that he has always supported Iron Dome funding despite his concerns about where the funds came from in that bill.
“Dr. Paul has never opposed Iron Dome funding and has always supported Israel and continues to stand with them during these horrific and violent acts of terrorism. During past debate in the Senate, Dr. Paul has advocated to fully fund the Iron Dome through cutting funding to Afghanistan which is now run by the Taliban. Democrats objected to his efforts and continue to send money to countries who wish to harm the United States and its allies,” the spokesperson wrote.
Which Democrats Voted Against Iron Dome Funding?
The Democrats who voted against the funding were: Cori Bush of Missouri; André Carson of Indiana; Jesús García of Illinois; Raúl Grijalva of Arizona; Marie Newman of Illinois; Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Tlaib voiced her opposition to the funding during a speech on the House floor ahead of the September 2021 vote.
“I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses and violence,” she said. “The Israeli government is an apartheid regime.”
Many of the progressive Democrats who voted against the funding have released statements condemning both the Hamas attack and the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government, calling for a ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence between the two sides.
Newsweek reached out to the offices of the lawmakers who voted against the funding for comment via email.