Kentucky Republican wants to redirect proposed Afghanistan aid to finance Israel's missile defense system
In the latest hurdle to Israel receiving $1 billion in funding to replenish its Iron Dome missile defense system after May's Gaza conflict, Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky has blocked swift passage of the bill, Politico reports.
The lawmaker is an opponent of US foreign aid and is insisting that the Iron Dome money be offset by redirecting financial assistance for Afghanistan.
“He proposed that we pay for the House bill with money that is going to go to the Taliban,” a spokeswoman for the Kentucky senator told Politico.
Paul is the lone senator refusing to "hotline" the bill after its passage in the US House of Representatives. The "hotline" process allows a bill to go directly to the Senate floor for a vote with the consent of all 100 senators.
The Iron Dome bill passed the House by a vote of 420-9 after progressive Democrats voted against its inclusion into an emergency stopgap government funding bill, forcing Democratic leadership to advance the funding in a standalone bill.
Israel requested the additional $1 billion in funding after Iron Dome was depleted during May's conflict with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip that saw thousands of rockets launched indiscriminately at Israeli territory.
The $1 billion is on top of the annual $500 million in missile defense spending under a US-Israeli aid deal signed in 2016.