US stop-gap budget missing pledged increases for Israel (JERUSALEM POST) By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 12/23/10)
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WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama signed a stop-gap budget
measure Wednesday for the next three months, that does not include
hundreds of millions of dollars for Israeli defense that he pledged
earlier in the year.
The bill does not provide $205 million in what would have been first-
time American funds for the short-range Iron Dome missile defense
project, nor does it contain the increases in medium- and long-range
missile defense for 2011 approved earlier in the year by the House of
In addition, the bill keeps general military aid for Israel at the
same level as 2010 – as it does for almost all other funding – even
though it was supposed to increase from $2.775 billion to $3b.,
according to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the US and
Once this temporary measure – passed to keep the government from
shutting down – expires in March, Congress will have a chance to
restore that funding. The White House indicated it would push for its
commitments to Israel to be filled at that time.
“The administration will continue to work with the Congress to enact
the president’s FY 2011 request going forward, including full support
for requested assistance programs for Israel,” a senior
administration official told The Jerusalem Post.
“The administration had made progress in House and Senate bills on
getting the Iron Dome project funded as well as full funding for
Israel military assistance,” the official said. “Unfortunately, those
items were dropped, along with other administration priorities, when
the Senate couldn’t get past procedural hurdles.”
Several Republicans said that they expected Israel funds to be
considered favorably when the trimmed-down measure that was passed by
the Senate on Tuesday and signed by Obama on Wednesday ends in March.
But Democrats lashed out at the GOP for including the aid to Israel
in demands to hold spending at 2010 levels for now.
“It is unfortunate that Senate Republicans’ decision to block an
Omnibus funding bill or year-long Continuing Resolution means our
ally Israel is left wondering whether the United States will meet our
commitment under the MOU,” Nita Lowey, the New York Democrat who
chairs the House subcommittee on foreign operations appropriations,
told the Post, referring to two other bills backed by Democrats that
would have given Israel the additional funds.
“The incoming Republican leadership has sent disturbing signals about
the future of aid to Israel,” California Democrat Henry Waxman said,
highlighting the MOU and Iron Dome funding.
“Both programs are now at risk for the coming year. All who support
US aid to Israel should have reason to be concerned.”
But Republicans countered that Democrats in both the Senate and House
hadapproved the measure and charged they were playing politics with a
bill that had bipartisan support.
“They all voted for this bill. I would take this with a grain of
salt,” said Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch
He stressed that the bill “isn’t a declaration of policy” and that
senators would reconsider all the measures in March, including
maintaining their strong support of Israel aid.
“It doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to happen,” he said.
“It’s just a temporary measure.”
Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, incoming chairwoman of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the GOP remained highly
committed to Israel but wanted to have the room to consider whether
other foreign aid allocations made sense.
“Republicans will not use security assistance to Israel as a
political tool to excuse separate, unsubstantiated increases in US
development aid across the board,” she said. “Security assistance to
Israel advances our national security priorities, and the return on
our investment in this critical US ally is clear, unlike many other
of our overseas programs and operations.”
“Senate Republicans and Democrats will work together to ensure that
assistance to Israel meets the Memorandum of Understanding and ensure
that security needs are met next year,” said a GOP Senate staffer,
noting that the full MOU amount for 2011 could be given to Israel
He added that Republicans wanted to get through a bill with as little
extra spending beyond 2010 as possible for a short amount of time so
that the party would have more leverage on the budget once GOP
members took over the US House and bolstered their numbers in the
Senate in January.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who worked with
McConnell on the details of the version of the budget bill that was
signed into law Wednesday, referred questions to the Senate
Requests for comment by the chairman of the committee, Daniel Inouye
(D-Hawaii), went unanswered.
Obama had touted the special funding he requested for the Iron Dome
in May and was backed by congressional Democrats in a high-profile
fast-track effort to highlight their commitment to the project. (©
1995 - 2010 The Jerusalem Post. 12/23/10)
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