House Democrats Release Government Funding Bill Tie With Debt Ceiling, Strips $1B For Israel’s Iron Dome

House Democrats Release Government Funding Bill Tie With Debt Ceiling, Strips $1B For Israel’s Iron Dome

Mona Salama
Mona Salama
|
September 21, 2021

House Democrats unveiled Tuesday the legislative text for a short-term government funding bill that ties a provision to suspend the debt limit but strips a provision originally included to boost $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system after caving to progressives backlash.

The 93-page bill, dubbed H.R. 5305 “Extending Government 5 Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act,” or known as a continuing resolution, will fund the government through Dec. 3 and includes a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022. The bill also includes $28.6 billion in disaster aid to address recent hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters and $6.3 billion in funding for Afghan refugees who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban’s rapid takeover last month.

However, the funding bill hit a last-minute obstacle after a group of House progressives revolted over the $1 billion funding to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome system, a situation never seen in Congress. In the last minute before the text was unveiled ahead of the procedural vote, Democratic leaders, despite previously vowing the Israeli government the aid, agreed to strip the critical funding from the stop-gap measure after facing threats from progressive of voting against the short-term funding bill.

The group of Progressive objectors, who pushed to cancel an arms sale to Israel amid the civil war earlier this year, was led by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Rashida Tlaib (D- MI).

Biden conveyed publicly in May following the end of the Israel-Palestine war to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, a crucial structure the Jewish state depends on for its defense protection against Islamic terrorist rocket attacks. He repeated the pledge last month when Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made his first trip to the White House late last month. And shortly before the House Democrats’ nixed the funding, Biden, in his first UN General Assembly speech, told the group of world leaders its “commitment of the United States to Israel’s security is without question, and our support for an independent Jewish state is unequivocal.”

According to an Appropriations Committee spokesperson who spoke to The Floridian said the funding for the Iron Dome “will be included in the final, bipartisan and bicameral” defense funding bill later this year.

A number of moderate House Democrats expressed their anger with leadership‘s caving to Progressives demands to nix the funding from the stop-gap package. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) tweeted the “Iron Dome is a defensive system used by one of our closest allies to save civilian lives. It needs to be replenished because thousands of rockets were fired by the Hamas terrorists who control Gaza. Consider this my pushing back against this decision.”

The federal government faces a looming shutdown on Sept. 30, leaving lawmakers less than a week and a half to arrange any sort of bipartisan compromise over a suspension of the debt limit. Failure to approve a must-pass funding bill or a form of a continuing resolution to fund the government short-term by the end of the month will lead to a partial government shutdown. Meanwhile, the Treasury Department also warned that the federal government borrowing limit is set to expire in October. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raised the alarm Monday, stating that any inaction from Congress in the next few days will see the U.S. defaulting on its debt, potentially triggering an “economic catastrophe.”

Republicans have vowed to oppose any measure of hiking the debt limit, arguing the issue should be resolved within the majority party. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) repeatedly alerted Democrats they would not get help from Republicans.

“Since Democrats decided to go it alone, they will not get Senate Republicans’ help with raising the debt limit. I’ve explained this clearly and consistently for over two months,” McConnell said Monday on the Senate floor.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Monday their plans to attach the short-term funding measure with a provision to suspend the debt limit, in attempts to dodge two possible crises in one bill.

“Addressing the debt limit is about meeting obligations the government has already made, like the bipartisan emergency COVID relief legislation from December as well as vital payments to Social Security recipients and our veterans,” Democratic congressional leaders said in a statement, adding that a default “could plunge the country into a recession.”

Following the last-minute House Rules Committee gathering, Pelosi told reporters that she expects the House to vote Tuesday evening on the continuing resolution bill.

Mona Salama

Mona Salama

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