Congress managed to wrap-up unfinished business on Thursday a day ahead of a government shutdown deadline.
Both houses voted to approve a defense policy bill, which includes more than $600 million for missile defense cooperation with Israel.
The Senate passed the legislation by a wide margin of 92-7, a week after the House overwhelmingly approved the measure 375-34. It now awaits the president’s signature.
The Times of Israel reports:
The legislation includes the approval of some $600.7 million for US-Israel missile defense cooperation for the 2017 fiscal year, with provisions specifically authorizing $268.7 million in research and development funding for US-Israel cooperative missile and rocket defense programs; $62 million for procurement of the Iron Dome rocket defense system; $150 million for procurement of the David’s Sling medium-range missile defense system; and $120 million for procurement of the Arrow-3 long-range missile defense system.
Some $10 million in additional funds are earmarked for US-Israel anti-tunnel cooperation.
The money is not part of the massive defense package agreement, also known as the memorandum of understanding, signed between the two countries earlier in the year. The new package will grant Israel $3.8 billion annually — up from the $3 billion pledged under the previous agreed-upon MOU — starting in 2018 and through 2028.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Thursday welcomed the news, saying it “commends Congress for strongly bolstering US-Israel defense cooperation. These funds will help Israel defend its citizens against rocket and missile threats, and will further America’s own missile defense programs.”
The provisions, said AIPAC, “demonstrate Congress’ strong interest in addressing Iran’s malign behavior,” by “requiring a quarterly report describing any confirmed ballistic missile launches by Iran, along with efforts to impose sanctions in response,” and “requiring information on Iran’s cyber capabilities to be incorporated in the annual report on Iran’s military power, mandated under existing law.”
The bill rebuffs Obama’s quest to shutter the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; denies his bid to reduce the size of armed forces, and grants the troops a pay raise larger than the one their commander in chief recommended.