Rift between “progressive” and centrist Democrats in House bill on Iron Dome funding

September 24, 2021 • 9:15 am

After some squabbling within the Democratic Party, the House approved $1 billion funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome”, designed solely as a defensive measure to protect it from rockets fired from Palestine. To avoid Republican opposition to raising the debt ceiling, the Dems had to break this out as a separate bill. (Iron Dome funding has been going on for some years.)

There were 420 votes to fund, but nine dissenting votes on the bill—8 Democrats and one Republican—while two members voted “present”. Three of the “no” votes were “squad members” Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Presley, and Ilhan Omar, while, as usual, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez waffled, as she was set to vote “no” as well, but then waffled at the last minute and voted “present” because she cannot bring herself to come out as anti-Israel along with her fellow “progressives”. Rumor has it that AOC wants to challenge Chuck Schumer for his New York Senate seat, and she won’t win in New York if she’s gets a reputation as anti-Israel. As the NYT reports:

Minutes before the vote closed, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tearfully huddled with her allies before switching her vote to “present.” The tableau underscored how wrenching the vote was for even outspoken progressives, who have been caught between their principles and the still powerful pro-Israel voices in their party. (A spokesman for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez declined to comment on her change of position.)

The Times’s original story, however, included the last underlined phrase below, couching the vote as a battle between the “principles” of the progressives and the “power” of “influential lobbyists and rabbis”. (The original version of the NYT is archived here.) I guess the paper realized this might not exactly be “objective” reporting since perhaps some of those Democrats who voted to support the bill might have principles, too. One person who clearly doesn’t, though, is the dissimulating and ambitious Ocasio-Cortez, forced to tears by her cognitive dissonance.

Here’s the only place I found the House members who voted “no”. The other “not present” is Georgia Representative Hank Johnson.

The vote now goes to the Senate, which will pass the bill.

41 thoughts on “Rift between “progressive” and centrist Democrats in House bill on Iron Dome funding

  1. In the current 117th United States Congress, Jewish Democrats outnumber Jewish Republicans by 25 to 2 in the House and by nine to zero in the Senate (10 to zero, if one counts Vermont’s Independent Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats). Among the Jews in the current congress are some of the most progressive Democrats.

  2. It appears that bi-partisanship is not dead. I hope the Squad view this vote as what it is: a decisive rejection of their position on Israel. And AOC cried!

    1. Two sides are needed for real peace negotiation. By linking Iron Dome founding to real peace negotiation they would basically link it to the approval of the PA. They would ask for an outrageous price for their approval.

    2. Does the Palestinian Authority have the power to keep Hamas in check if a deal is reached which isn’t what Hamas wants? (This is not a rhetorical question: I think the answer is no, but I’m not an expert in the politics of the region).

      There’s no point in negotiating with somebody who can’t deliver on their side of the bargain.

  3. I’m guessing the “principle” involved here is the ethical stance to support the terrorist slaughter of Israeli men, women, and children by thousands of rockets fired from Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria?

    Or perhaps it is to encourage bloody ground operations against Gaza, which will be needed if the Iron Dome shield is gone?

  4. Why do you deem it “anti-Israel” to vote no to give tax payer money to another fairly rich and successful nation? Would I be anti-American (or anti-Denmark) if I said no to award them tax money?

    I hazard the guess that what is really being funded is not Israel, but some US arms manufacturer, who get to deliver the material for the dome, with some nice profits on top.

    1. As far as I know the ‘Iron Dome’ was developed and produced in Israel.
      It is an exclusively defensive system. I fully support that.

        1. I checked it up too: you are right, it is produced by a joint venture between Israeli Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and U.S. defense contractor Raytheon Technologies.
          It was developed in Israel by Raphael ADS and Israel Aerospace Industries.
          So yes, a big chunk of that billion goes to Raytheon.

        2. Just wondering where those determined Arabs got their 4000 rockets. Are you fantasising about the sort of carnage they wanted to produce if that dome hadn’t been there? What makes you assume that Israel is a rich country? I imagine an enormous budget is spent on defence, and the sacrifice of young lives to keep out the barbarian hordes surrounding them. An enormous drain on the country and it’s people.

    2. The U.S. gives, I believe, about 4-5 billion dollars a year to Nato, a bunch of fairly rich countries. And notice the comment by Gingerbaker below. I guess it’s only Israel that we shouldn’t give money to to help protect an ally, right?

      1. NATO isn’t a country, its a multi-national alliance with a joint command structure. Trump was pretty critical of imbalances in NATO, but the criticism was not intended to scrap NATO but to get partners to build their domestic military up to treaty levels. NATO is not intended as charity.

        There is a large U.S. military presence in Europe, which provides free security, but that is a legacy of WWII (people were not ecstatic about Germany building a new modern army) and the Cold War (containing the Soviet Union was the number one priority). Plus, those “fairly rich countries” managed to throw the world into massive wars twice if recollection serves, its probably a better investment to station some US troops there rather than having to intervene on the continent every 20 years.

        This is not to say that there are no security benefits regionally from Israel.

        Israel is number one (3.3 billion) in foreign aid, and Jordan (1.52 billion) is the runner up, but clearly way behind. There is certainly a motivation other than hatred of Israel or Jews to question American foreign aid to Israel:


        This is not intended as a position on either the Iron Dome or foreign aid to Israel, but its not the same thing to give someone $1 Billion to build a weapon system versus stationing American Troops somewhere or to spend money on a multi-national, regional alliance.

      2. That would be established by comparison. You did not factor in the voting behaviour of the nay-sayers, and that opened the question whether it is possible at all to say no to industrial-military-complex wellfare.

        I would be also against funding if Denmark was to receive money for an Iron Dome.

  5. “Why do you deem it “anti-Israel” to vote no to give tax payer money to another fairly rich and successful nation? ”

    When was the last time you saw objection to spending going to Japan, Germany, South Korea, the UK, Kuwait, Bahrain, or Italy. More of our tax dollars go to each of these countries than to Israel when you count the cost of keeping troops there. In all of these cases, the US does this to support a strategic ally.

    1. Keeping troops in a foreign country isn’t exactly pure American altruism. Very little US foreign aid, in any form, is.

      1. I wouldn’t go so far as Monsieur de Gaulle, but he was on to a nugget of truth when he said, “No nation has friends, only interests.”

      2. I am not sure how it works in other countries but in our relationship with Japan, it is Japan who puts in a lot of the money to keep us over there. They build all of the housing for our military over there on each of the military bases. They add a great deal of money referred to as DOJ money (Department of Japan). When I was working in Okinawa, Japan I had over 100 local employees working for me in the warehouse/distribution center. Also a dozen or so in a transportation motor pool. We were give DOJ money equal to the salaries of all the Japanese employees working for me. It was the same as free labor. I know of no other country where we operate that does this.

        I also lived in a nice 9 story building that housed only American military and civilian workers. It was as good as it gets for housing overseas.

          1. Not really but I only mention it because often people have no idea how much money is spent in any given place for our presents. How much is on us, the American tax payer and how much the foreign country may be paying. In the case of Japan where we still have thousands of military, it is Japan that puts in a lot of the cost. That does not mean we should not ask, what the heck are we doing with so many over there.

    2. I object to massive amounts of US taxpayer money going to any of those countries. Maybe the single thing I agreed with Trump on. And I would oppose a billion dollars for Israel even though I support Israel.

      1. Everything is complicated. But giving taxpayer money to support a staunch ally is a helluva lot cheaper than war and dealing with its unforeseeable consequences. Besides, its only money, and I’d rather spend that than see genocide.

  6. Could we look forward to Representatives Tlaib and Omar, in their continuing struggle against Islamophobia, introducing a bill to provide American rockets directly to Hamas?

  7. Meh, political virtue signaling of convenience. I expect AOC knows the importance of the debt ceiling, and felt free to vote against it in part because she knew it would pass anyway. Likewise, Pelosi probably didn’t put any effort into bringing objectors around because she too knew it would pass.

    Personally I think this happens a lot more than people expect. The party gets together and decides it wants some bill to pass or not pass. But they know various constituencies might get upset with some aspect of the bill. So they divvy out some acceptable number of against-party votes to their members who need to vote against it to keep their right/left/moderate credibility. The party gets their way, and the “objecting” member get the benefit of the polite fiction of standing on principle. “Hi Nancy. I’m going to vote against this so I can keep my woke credential with my voters. You understand?” “I understand perfectly. Not a problem, there’s no risk of it not passing. You go get those reelection votes.”

  8. I don’t see how AOC can not be seen as sympathetic to the BDS movement in the state of New York. So I would be astonished to learn that she has a snowballs’ change to replace Chuck Schumer in the Senate.

  9. The overwhelming passage of the Iron Dome supplemental appropriation act is encouraging. Unfortunately, Israel is only one (albeit an important one) of several issues on which the influence of the Democrats’ squadristi wing is what prevented 2020 from being the blue wave it should have been. Michael Lind explains in detail at:

    Excerpt: “Given bipartisan acceptance of New Deal entitlement programs and laws forbidding discrimination against individuals on the basis of race, gender, and sexual orientation, Democrats could claim to be the party of the American center. Unfortunately, the “woke” left wing of the Democratic Party, based in the universities, the NGO world, media, tech platforms, and corporate HR departments, insists on dragging the Democratic Party ever leftward into new and doomed crusades, including defunding the police, open borders, the warmed-over 1960s Black Power rhetoric of “critical race theory,” the replacement of standard English with the weird totalitarian newspeak of intersectional terminology (like “birthing parents” for “mothers”). While it might be defended in a campus seminar, this kind of cultural progressivism is politically toxic.”

    1. Mere 9 people voted no, against 420. The “squad” are just 6 democrats. Meanwhile, the US is ever adrift rightwards. In 2021, American people have no decent health care system, as shown in red with a few Saharan states (this is just one example).


      In 2004, an OECD report noted that “all OECD countries [except Mexico, Turkey, and the United States] had achieved universal or near-universal (at least 98.4% insured) coverage of their populations by 1990”.[28] The 2004 IOM report also observed that “lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States.”[24] […] A 2009 study in five states found that medical debt contributed to 46.2% of all personal bankruptcies, and 62.1% of bankruptcy filers claimed high medical expenses in 2007.[37] Since then, health costs and the numbers of uninsured and underinsured have increased.[38] A 2013 study found that about 25% of all senior citizens declare bankruptcy due to medical expenses.[39] — summary wikipedia on US health care

      The US centre is right wing, moderates of any party are at least right wing, if not far right in any other major democracy. Republicans are with one half already on theofascist territory. Even Bernie Sanders’ programme would fit into many European right wing (!) parties, where it’s accepted that people should have health care coverage.

  10. If Israel can afford universal healthcare for its citizens and the government can subsidize higher education so public university students pay a small token tuition, why can’t they afford their own missile defense?

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