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Eight progressive Democrats vote against funding Israel's Iron Dome, as angry words fly

Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, a critic of U.S. foreign aid spending, voted against the bill as well.

Updated: September 23, 2021 - 11:03pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

In total, there were eight Democratic members of the House Progressive Caucus who voted against a bill providing $1 billion in funding for Israel's Iron Dome, while two voted present.

Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, a critic of U.S. foreign aid spending, voted against the bill on Thursday as well.

"My position of 'no foreign aid' might sound extreme to some, but I think it's extreme to bankrupt our country and put future generations of Americans in hock to our debtors," Massie wrote on Twitter ahead of the vote.

The final bipartisan vote was 420-9 with two members voting present. Reps. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Marie Newman (D-Ill.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-Ill.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) voted no. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) voted present. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) reportedly voted no but later changed her vote to present.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) criticized Tlaib on Thursday for declaring that she would vote against the Iron Dome funding.

"The Iron Dome has been crucial in saving countless Israeli lives from rockets fired by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah from Gaza and Lebanon into Israel," said Deutch. "I cannot, I cannot allow one of my colleagues to stand on the floor of the House of Representative and label the Jewish democratic State of Israel an apartheid state. I reject it. If you believe in human rights, if you believe in saving lives, Israeli lives and Palestinian lives, I say to my colleague who just besmirched our ally, then you will support this legislation."

Tlaib had characterized the funding as an "effort to enable war crimes and human rights abuses and violence."

"We cannot be talking only about Israelis' need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system, and are dying from what Human Rights Watch has said are war crimes," she said.

According to the Times of Israel, the $1 billion funding represents about 60% of the amount the U.S. has spent on the Iron Dome since 2011.

Some progressive lawmakers had demanded that House Democratic leaders remove the funding for Israel's missile defense system from a spending bill to keep the government funded through Dec. 3 of the year. 

The continuing resolution passed the House without the funding on Tuesday. After that, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, announced the House would be voting on a standalone bill with the Iron Dome funding.

Ahead of Thursday's vote on the floor, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) argued that it was wrong for some of his colleagues to advocate for removal of the funding from the continuing resolution.

"We thank God each day for the Iron Dome, which intercepted 90% of the incoming rockets, saving countless lives,” he said. "Unfortunately, some of my colleagues recently used support for this defense system as a political football. They threatened to shut down the federal government, put at risk hurricane disaster relief and help for Afghan refugees all over support for Iron Dome.

"It was outrageous, but now we have a chance to act. Let's pass this bill, support Iron Dome in our country and continue our historic bipartisan support for the US-Israel relationship, and the Senate should then immediately take up this standalone measure and not let it get bogged down in the ongoing debt ceiling and continuing resolution debate."