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Despite Obama’s Veto Threat, House Passes Funding Boost for Israel’s Defense

The House of Representatives easily passed a $576 billion defense appropriations bill — including an allocation of $635 million for Israel’s missile defense programs, which the president said he would veto.

Thursday’s vote on the bill in the Republican-controlled house passed 282-138, to Defense News.

The massive $576 billion defense appropriations bill for the upcoming fiscal year included $268.7 million in research and development funding for U.S.-Israel cooperative missile and rocket defense programs; $25 million in research and development funding for U.S.-Israel energy activities to combat missiles and rockets, including toward producing lasers; $72 million for procurement of the Iron Dome rocket defense system; $150 million for procurement of the David’s Sling missile defense system, and $120 million for procurement of the Arrow-3 missile defense system.

On Tuesday, the White House issued a lengthy letter detailing over a dozen points of opposition to the appropriations measure, including the funding for Israel’s missile defense system, which received $400 million more than requested by the White House.

The administration complained in the letter that the legislation “fails to provide our troops with the resources needed to keep our nation safe.”

The Obama administration “opposes the addition of $455 million” for Israeli missile defense procurement and cooperative development programs, the letter stated. On Wednesday, State Department Spokesman John Kirby said that the administration opposed the funding increase because it “would consume a growing share of a shrinking U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s budget.”

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called the White House’s opposition to the increased funding for Israel “a disturbing departure from the prior practice of this and previous administrations.”

In a time of “escalating threats to Israel from the arsenal of more 150,000 missiles and rockets supplied by Iran and stockpiled by Hezbollah,” Conference of Presidents Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein wrote in a statement Wednesday, “the decision by the Obama Administration to oppose the overwhelming bipartisan Congressional support for increasing Israel’s ability to defend its people is very troubling.”

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