Partisan squabbling prevented the Senate from passing an emergency funding bill Thursday night that would have sent money to Israel to help it in its fight against Hamas in Gaza.
An earlier version of that bill would have included $2.7 billion to help the Obama administration deal with the immigration crisis on the southern U.S. border. Although that was $1 billion less than the president had requested, Senate Republicans still refused to support the measure, according to MSNBC.
Hoping to still get aid for Israel passed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, broke off the border money and tried to pass a standalone bill that included $225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. The emergency bill also included $615 million to help firefighters battle wildfires in the western United States.
Politico reports Republicans rejected that bill as well.
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This rejection puts into question the numerous promises made by Senate Republicans to fund the missile defense system in recent weeks.
Just hours after Israel launched its ground operations in Gaza on July 17, Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, spoke on the Senate floor praising the efficacy of that system.
“The Senate does not see a moral equivalency here,” Graham said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. “As Prime Minister Netanyahu said, Israel uses missiles — helped in collaboration with the United States to produce the technology called Iron Dome — to defend civilians. Hamas uses civilians to cover their missile program, making human shields of their own people. That says really all you need to know.”
“We’ve all watched as the tiny state of Israel, who is with us on everything, they have had in the last three weeks 3,000 rockets filed into their country,” Reid said before offering his bill up for a vote. “Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asked for $225 million in emergency funding so that Israel’s arsenal as it relates to the Iron Dome could be replenished. It’s clear that is an emergency, and we should be able to agree on that.”
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Republicans who voted against the bill said they wanted commensurate spending cuts included to offset the emergency funds.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, offered up a bill that would have done just that by reducing the amount of money sent to international organizations like the United Nations. Reid blocked that bill hoping the urgency of the situation would eventually get his bill passed without any spending cuts.
“Our number one ally — at least in my mind — is under attack. If this isn’t an emergency I don’t know anything that is,” Reid said.
Coburn didn’t disagree, but did say he didn’t want to mire the U.S. in more debt.
“I want to fund Israel,” replied Coburn. “I also want to make sure our children have a future.”