WASHINGTON – Senior officials in the House of Representatives in Washington made it clear Monday that the funding for the development of missile defense systems was still a top priority in the foreign aid budget in spite of pressure from congress' republican majority to make significant spending cuts.
In an interview to The Hill, a newspaper covering the comings and goings on Capitol Hill, senior officials Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the new chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations and Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), who sits on the Appropriations subcommittees on Defense, Homeland Security and State and Foreign Operations, said that they support the ongoing special funding allocated by the Obama administration for the Iron Dome and Arrow-3 anti missile program, aid that stands at more than $442 million.
The US budget for 2011 has been delayed for over three months and includes the annual defense aid to Israel including the special additions that the new congress has yet to address.
Granger said that her panel's funding has jumped 33% over the past two years, and lawmakers on the subcommittee will look to those recent funding additions first when it comes to cuts. Among the initiatives that the Republicans seek to cutback on are the presidential initiatives on global health and climate change.
"As we look at cuts we have to always look at national security and the security of our partners, which is our security, too," Granger stated. She mentioned that she agreed with cutbacks announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that don't touch the missile defense programs.
In response to the Republican demand to make cutbacks to all budgets, which came specifically from the new members from the anti-Obama administration Tea Party faction, Granger noted that the Hezbollah now has 45,000 missiles which demand some kind of response.
In 2010, President Obama presented congress with a request for $205 million in special aid for the development of the Iron Dome short range missile defense system and $200 million for the Arrow-3 program which is supposed to add an additional layer of protection from Ballistic missiles.
Over the past two years the US funded nearly $1 billion in developing anti-missile systems in Israel and congress has been signaling its intent to continue funding the protective projects.
"Israel has assisted in the security of the United States on literally thousands of occasions in nearly immeasurable ways since her birth and continues to be an even more essential partner with the U.S. in not only protecting our shared values and interests but the very national security of the United States," Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) said.
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