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House approves bill providing $1 billion for Israel's Iron Dome

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Washington — The House on Thursday approved a bill providing $1 billion for Israel's Iron Dome defense system, two days after the funding was stripped from a short-term government spending bill amid objections from progressive lawmakers.

The measure cleared the House in a bipartisan vote of 420 to 9. Eight Democrats and one Republican voted against the funding for the missile defense system. Two other Democrats — Hank Johnson of Georgia and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — voted "present."

House Democrats on Wednesday introduced the bill providing the $1 billion for Israel's Iron Dome after the provision was abruptly removed from government spending legislation Tuesday. Progressive lawmakers objected to its inclusion in the stopgap bill, known as a continuing resolution, which would keep the government funded through December 3 and suspends the debt limit until December 2022.

Support for the Iron Dome, which protects Israel from rocket attacks launched by terrorist groups such as Hamas from Gaza, has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. The U.S. has already provided $1.6 billion to Israel for Iron Dome batteries, interceptors, co-production costs and maintenance, according to a 2020 report from the Congressional Research Service. The system is co-produced by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense System and U.S.-based defense contractor Raytheon.

Debate over the latest round of Iron Dome funding sparked fierce debate between some Democrats.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan who opposed the bill, called the Israeli government an "apartheid regime" and said the $1 billion represents "an absurd and unjustifiable" increase in U.S. funding for the Iron Dome.

"I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses and violence," she said in a speech on the House floor. "We cannot be talking only about Israelis need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system."

In response to her claims, Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida, a fellow Democrat, accused Tlaib of advancing a view that is anti-Semitic. 

"I cannot allow one of my colleagues to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives and label the Jewish democratic state of Israel an apartheid state. I reject it," he said on the House floor. "Today, this caucus, this body, the House of Representatives will overwhelmingly stand with our ally, the state of Israel, in replenishing this defensive system. If you believe in human rights, if you believe in saving lives, Israeli lives and Palestinian lives, I say to my colleague who just besmirched our ally, then you will support this legislation." 

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