Press Release

Gillibrand Calls For Senate Appropriations Committee To Support Israel’s Emergency Request For Iron Dome Assistance

Jul 30, 2021

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined a bipartisan group of senators in sending a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) urging them to support Israel’s recent emergency request of $1 billion in security assistance to help replenish and prepare its Iron Dome missile defense system for a future conflict. Israel’s request for emergency assistance comes on the heels of the recent conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip this past May.

Senator Gillibrand has been a consistent supporter of the U.S.-Israeli Cooperative Missile Defense Program, of which the Iron Dome is a key pillar. Iron Dome is indispensable in helping Israel fortify its defenses against missile and rocket attacks. Senator Gillibrand secured $500,000,000 for U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense programs in the Senate text of the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act and earlier this year led a similar push to appropriate these funds as part of the Defense Appropriations bill for FY 2022. This funding is in line with the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding that includes funding for the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow programs.

“Iron Dome is critical for the safety and protection of Israel, our close friend and ally,” Senator Gillibrand said. “As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I’m proud to fight to replenish this vital program, which promotes stability in the region and helps Israel repel incoming missile attacks.”

In addition to Senator Gillibrand, the letter was signed by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and John Thune (R-SD).

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Leahy and Vice Chairman Shelby: 

We write with regard to an issue of utmost importance to that of our ally, Israel, and our own security interests. The U.S.-Israel relationship is rooted in shared values of democracy and peace. They are also the greatest force for stability in a region of chaos. An important part of this stability is the ability of Israel to defend itself from ongoing threats to its people and its very existence. 

It is our understanding that Israel has recently made an emergency request of an additional $1 billion in security assistance in order to replenish and prepare its Iron Dome missile defense system for a future conflict. As you know, the Memorandum of Understanding negotiated between Israel and the United States in 2016 provides for $500 million a year in security assistance for Israel’s missile defense, but allows for Israel to make emergency requests in times of conflict. As such, we respectfully urge you to provide funding to fulfill this request.

Israel’s Iron Dome has saved countless lives as terrorists intentionally launch rockets at Israel to harm civilians. In the latest conflict this past May, Hamas and other groups, launched more than 4,400 rockets. Iron Dome successfully prevented approximately 90 percent of these rockets from reaching their targets. The significance of this cannot be overstated. In past conflicts between Israel and Gaza, Palestinian rockets have killed and injured hundreds of civilians. With Iron Dome, Israel is able to protect its people. The safety of Israel, and its people, is a critical national security concern to the United States. We must ensure they have the resources to defend themselves from the same terrorists who have killed Americans. 

Failure of Iron Dome to properly operate could harm our own interests in the region. In May, President Biden stated that the U.S. fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself and promised his “full support to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome.” Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin submitted a formal supplemental request of $1 billion for this funding. As such, we respectfully request the committee provide the funding for Iron Dome and look forward to working with you to ensure that the U.S. continues to advance peace and stability in the Middle East. 

Thank you for your consideration of this timely request.