By Burgess Everett / Politico.com
The Obama administration’s $225 million request to aid Israel during its war with Hamas may not be enough, warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday afternoon.
At the request of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Senate Democrats folded $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system into a larger bill that offers $2.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the influx of Central American migrants to the southern border. But Reid said Israel will need even more help from the United States if the war in Gaza continues, demonstrating the need to pass the funding package this week ahead of a five-week congressional recess.
Reid predicted that Hagel’s aid request for Israel may turn out to be “only temporary” given the steep costs associated with operating Iron Dome, which picks off Hamas’s rockets at a price-tag of $62,000 per missile, according to Reid.
“We should not give the Israeli people the minimum amount of aid and then cross our fingers and hope it all works out in the future,” Reid said. “We can do better and need to go further in protecting Israel.”
Delivering money to Israel during its pitched conflict with Hamas is sure to receive bipartisan support in Congress, but Democrats’ attempts to tie $2.7 billion in border funding, $615 million for wildfires and the Iron Dome money has not yet moved Republicans to support the $3.57 billion package.
Instead the GOP is pushing a standalone bill containing $225 million for Israel, hoping to bypass Democratic attempts to tie the border bill to Iron Dome funding.
“Republicans are united in support of our ally Israel. We have legislation that would allow Congress to meet the [Defense] Secretary’s request” for $225 million, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell late last week. “We hope our friends on the other side will join us in coming to a sensible, bipartisan solution that can be passed quickly.”
But Reid said the Senate must vote to approve wildfire, border and Israel aid before recess, not just money for the Iron Dome. He accused Republicans of “slow walking” the border money as the recess deadline approaches, though he sounded open to splitting the requests into separate bills if they were considered “immediately.”
“We’ve got to get this done,” Reid said. “Leaving here with Israel being naked as they are, with these wildfires raging and a crisis at the border, it would be a shame if we did nothing.”