Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) today announced that $600 million in funding for Israeli missile defense programs has cleared a key hurdle and was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The measure will now head to the Senate floor for a vote. Senators Gillibrand and Kirk have been pushing for full funding of the U.S. Israel cooperative missile defense programs to be included in the Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017. In fiscal year 2015, Congress appropriated $620 million for this purpose and in 2016, it provided $487 million. Providing full funding of $600 million allows Israel to protect itself not only from short-range threats along its border, but also from mid-range and long-range threats. In addition to the extra defensive capabilities for Israel, this program also provides better data and technology for the U.S. to use in its own national security programs.
“I’m pleased that full funding for cooperative U.S-Israel missile defense programs has cleared this key hurdle and is now headed to the Senate floor for a vote,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Israel should have all the resources necessary to protect its citizens from the range of threats it faces. Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the Arrow programs are critical resources to help Israel protect itself and fully funding these programs not only benefits Israeli security but also U.S. national security. As this measure heads to the Senate floor for a vote, I’m urging all my colleagues to vote yes and fully fund these critical programs.”
“This critical defense bill fully funds U.S.-Israel missile defense programs, which have an indisputable record of saving countless innocent lives,” said Senator Kirk. “I will keep working with Senator Gillibrand to champion this funding and urge our colleagues to vote for ensuring Israel, a democracy and our closest ally in the Middle East, has the strongest capabilities to defend herself against rocket and missile threats from Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists as well as Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime.”
Earlier this year Gillibrand and Kirk lead a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 30 Senators urging the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Ranking Member Dick Durbin (D-IL) urging full funding for all three cooperative missile defense programs (Arrow System Improvement Program, Arrow III upper tier interceptor, and David’s Sling), as well as for the successful Iron Dome system, amid growing rocket and missile threats to Israel.
Senators Gillibrand and Kirk have long led support for U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile defense programs that advance U.S. national security interests by supporting Israel’s ability to defend itself against missile and rocket attacks while providing the United States with critical capabilities as well. Last year, at the senators’ urging, the Senate Appropriations Committee provided more than $487 million in funding, including $55 million for the successful Iron Dome system.