October 21, 2020

Gillibrand, Cruz Lead Bipartisan Call To Expand U.S.-Israel Cooperation In National Defense Authorization Act Negotiations

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, and Ted Cruz (R-TX), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led their colleagues in sending a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, to request continued support of provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that will maintain the close cooperation between the United States and Israel.

In the letter, the senators call for inclusion of the U.S. Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act, facilitation of cooperative research and manufacturing to combat COVID-19, and the establishment of a United-States-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group.

“Expanding military and civilian cooperation between the United States and Israel will give us a leg up when countering emerging threats. We hope to work with you through the conference process to ensure these provisions are included in the final NDAA,” the senators wrote in the letter. 

Senator Gillibrand previously announced $500 million in funding for U.S. – Israeli cooperative missile defense programs in the Senate NDAA. For years, Gillibrand has led a bipartisan letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense in support of this funding. In December 2019, Gillibrand and Senator Schumer announced that they had secured $500 million for the programs in the FY2020 NDAA, after securing $700 million the year prior. 

Read the text of the letter here and below:

Dear Chairmen Inhofe and Smith, and Ranking Members Reed and Thornberry,

As National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference negotiations commence, we are writing to draw your attention to key provisions in the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that support the U.S.-Israel relationship. We ask that you continue to support close cooperation between the United States and our strategic ally Israel by including the below provisions in the final NDAA.

U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act

We urge you to include Subtitle H, Sections 6290-6299 of the Senate-passed NDAA, which fully funds security assistance to Israel as agreed to in the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding, in the final bill. Additionally, we call on you to support provisions that would increase bilateral cooperation on a variety of urgent issues confronting our military and nation, such as COVID-19. Section 6299F, a version of S.3722 Expanding Medical Partnerships with Israel to Lessen Dependence on China (EMPIL-DOC) Act, directly addresses the impact of COVID-19 and establishes a viable program to develop technologies to combat the virus and prevent or mitigate future outbreaks. The House passed H.R. 1837, a bill similar to Subtitle H, in 2019 via voice vote. That bill had nearly 300 cosponsors.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Cooperation

The House NDAA contains a grant program that would increase U.S.-Israel cooperation on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Section 736. Including that provision will facilitate research into the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD.

U.S.-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group

Finally, we hope you will support the inclusion of Section 1286 of the Senate NDAA, which would establish a United-States-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group. The Working Group would facilitate bilateral cooperation on research and development in emerging fields of military technology and keep U.S. innovation one-step ahead of our adversaries. Israeli expertise in critical fields such as directed energy, robotics, autonomous systems, space, and cyber only stand to benefit the U.S. military.

Expanding military and civilian cooperation between the United States and Israel will give us a leg up when countering emerging threats. We hope to work with you through the conference process to ensure these provisions are included in the final NDAA.