WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a move that has angered both Republicans and moderate Democrats alike, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) – members of the far-left progressive “Squad” – successfully opposed U.S. funding for an Israeli anti-rocket defense system, managing to shave off $1 billion in aid for a program that has saved countless lives since its inception in 2011.
The program, known as the “Iron Dome,” is a mobile air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells that are aimed at populated areas in Israel. By late October 2014 alone, the Iron Dome system had intercepted over 1,200 rockets that would have otherwise struck civilian regions of the country.
Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib had threatened to oppose a spending bill last week that was needed to prevent a shutdown of the U.S. government unless $1 billion that was earmarked for the Iron Dome was removed.
However, in response, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), introduced a separate Israeli defense funding bill that will be voted upon this week, stated that it was vital for the safety of the country’s long-time ally.
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“The United States’ commitment to the security of our friend and ally Israel is ironclad. Replenishing interceptors used to protect Israel from attacks is our legal and moral responsibility,” she said.
In response, Tlaib – who has expressed anti-Israel sentiments in the past due to the country’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip – tweeted Wednesday that she would vote to oppose the standalone Israeli defense funding bill as well.
“I plan on casting a no vote,” she said. “We must stop enabling Israel’s human rights abuses and apartheid government.”
The actions of AOC and Tlaib angered many of the fellow members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, including Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), himself a progressive.
“A missile defense system (i.e. Iron Dome) defends civilians from missiles. Hence the name,” he said. “Only in a morally inverted universe would this be considered a controversy.”
Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) was also issued a tweet that was critical of the “Squad” members.
“The Iron Dome is critical to Israel’s safety and security, and directly tied to our safety and security. Delays in funding are unacceptable. It should not be removed from this week’s bill and we should pass it immediately.”
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) tweeted that Tlaib’s actions were “devoid of substance and irresponsible.”
“All of this is publicly-available information,” she said. “So to target Iron Dome now means the issue isn’t a genuine concern over the system, but rather the desire to attack something – anything – related to the State of Israel; it’s devoid of substance and irresponsible.”