An emergency spending bill that is intended to provide 0ver $200 million for replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system was rejected on the Senate floor, with domestic expenditures in the bill weighing it down.
Conservative right-wing hawks, fierce proponents of Israel, blamed the defeat on the Democrats for including pressing domestic initiatives among aid to Israel.
Partisan infighting over the emergency bill, which included $615 million to combat wildfires in the western US and $2.7 billion to provide assistance to the thousands of illegal aliens crossing into the United States via the Mexican border, threatens to delay desperately needed assistance for domestic crises.
The total cost of the proposals contained in the bill exceeds $3.5 billion.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to reduce the sticker shock of the legislation by placing Israel and firefighting funds into a separate bill. Such a proposal would have moved the heated issue of illegal immigrants — which the Democrats view as a source of future voters and the Republicans as a source of cheap labor — to the back burner.
“We’ve all watched as the tiny state of Israel, who is with us on everything, they have had in the last three weeks 3,000 rockets filed into their country,” Politico quoted Reid as saying. “Our number one ally – at least in my mind – is under attack. If this isn’t an emergency I don’t know anything that is.”
There was also pleading from the Republicans to approve the bill to assist Israel, which is presently involved in a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, a campaign that has attracted a mixed reactions from Americans.
Despite promises to endorse the Israel aid bill, Republicans seem to have rejected Reid’s request to achieve political advantage in the run-up to November’s Senate elections.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) offered an alternative to the Reid plan, which would give relief funds to Israel and western parts of the US, while demanding spending cuts to international organizations like the United Nations. But Reid rejected that.
“I want to fund Israel,” Politico quoted Coburn as saying in reply. “I also want to make sure our children have a future.”
In the end, instead of voting on Israeli aid in a separate bill, much-needed domestic funds to fight raging western fires and control the southern border will go missing in action. American public opinion is fast losing patience with both Republicans and Democrats, as satisfaction with Congress’s work reaches record lows.
With months to go before midterm elections, just 22 percent of registered voters say most members of Congress deserve re-election, and 72 percent say they do not, according to a recent Gallup poll.
The “deserve re-election” number is on course to be the lowest Gallup has measured in an election year.