The US Congress voted this past week on the National Defense Authorization Act for 2015. In a 325-98 decision in the House of Representatives, the legislation was passed, despite threats from the White House to veto the measure. Among the items in the budget: an increase in US funding for Israel’s missile defense system known as the Iron Dome.
The bill authorizes over $600 billion in military spending, including a popular 1.8% raise for troops. 216 Republicans and 109 Democrats backed the bill, which calls for increasing Pentagon funding for Iron Dome from $176 million to $351 million annually, nearly doubling the contribution. This is contingent on much of the spending being funneled back into US-based companies.
“Given the significant US taxpayer investment in this system, the committee believes that co-production of parts and components should be done in a manner that will maximize US industry participation in interceptor and battery deliveries for Israel’s defense needs,” an Armed Services Committee markup of the bill’s text reads.
An additional $269 million would be earmarked for Israel’s other missile defense systems, the Arrow 3 and David’s Sling, both of which were developed jointly or partially funded by the US.
Israel currently has several Iron Dome batteries deployed across the country. The system, first implemented in 2012, is used to shoot down short-range rockets aimed at populated areas. Hundreds of of missiles were targeted in just eight days during Operation: Pillar of Defense. The Arrow 3 is designed to deal with the threat of medium-range rockets, while David’s Sling targets long-range missiles.
The Senate also completed its version of the bill, which needs to be reconciled with the House version. It notably includes “a path to close Guantanamo,” something very important to President Barack Obama. The Senate version also backs some of the Pentagon’s preferred budget cuts, while rejecting others.