Biden administration says Iron Dome funding will be left up to Congress

Then-Senator Kamala Harris vists an Iran Some Missile Defense Battery (Office of Kamala Harris)

Michael Arria

Mondoweiss  /  August 11, 2021

The Biden administration wants $1 billion to restock Israel’s Iron Dome system. Will Congress give him what he wants?

On Tuesday the Biden administration indicated that Israel will have to rely on Congress when it comes to replenishing their Iron Dome system.

At a hearing of Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counter-terrorism, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Dana Stroul reiterated the administration’s support for additional Israel funding but made it clear that it wasn’t their call.

“We have unequivocally stated our support for supplemental appropriations and support of replenishing and expanding the system. We have consulted extensively with Congress and provided information paperwork to you all to support how you choose to proceed in funding the request,” Stroul said. 

Israel is reportedly seeking $1 billion for its Iron Dome system, which was used during the recent conflict in Gaza. News of the request was first announced by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham during an appearance on Fox News in June.

That same month the administration publicly declared that it wanted the system restocked. “During the conflict, we saw the Iron Dome system, which our nations developed together, save the lives of countless civilians,” said acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs Joey Hood at the time. “The president is clear about this administration’s support for replenishing the system for Israel’s ability to defend itself in the future.”

In May Biden approved a $735 million arms sale to Israel, despite some congressional opposition. Progressive House members even tried to block the sale via resolution but the administration effectively ignored the move.  “For decades, the U.S. has sold billions of dollars in weaponry to Israel without ever requiring them to respect basic Palestinian rights. In so doing, we have directly contributed to the death, displacement and disenfranchisement of millions,” said New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after introducing the resolution. “At a time when so many, including President Biden, support a ceasefire, we should not be sending ‘direct attack’ weaponry to Prime Minister Netanyahu to prolong this violence.”

On Tuesday the Biden administration also announced that it will sell $197 million worth of missiles to Egypt, despite growing concerns about the country’s human rights record.

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss