President Barack Obama signed into law late Monday a bill providing $225 million in emergency supplemental funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system in Israel.
The funding for the current fiscal year would help Israel “sustain production of Iron Dome components in order to maintain adequate stockpiles of Iron Dome interceptors and equipment,” according to a White House statement. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel requested the funding on July 22, when he wrote to Congress asking for the additional funding – separate from an additional $176 million Congress is poised to provide in fiscal year 2015 above the president’s request.
“The United States is proud that the Iron Dome system developed in coordination with Israel and funded by the United States has saved countless Israeli lives. Continued bipartisan support for Iron Dome funding ensures Israel will retain vital defense against rockets and artillery in light of the enduring threats,” the White House statement continues.
The funding nearly stalled in Congress, with the House and Senate set to recess for the summer on Aug. 1 and lawmakers unable to agree on an overall emergency supplemental package, which was originally meant to fund Iron Dome production, response efforts to the immigration crisis at the Mexican border and to help fight wildfires in the West. Congress ultimately separated the Iron Dome funding from the border crisis funding to allow for easier passage.
With the funding now finalized, Israel and its defense contractor Rafael would be able to immediately boost production of the interceptor missiles. The money will not affect American contractor Raytheon [RTN] , which earlier this year signed a co-production agreement with Rafael to bring some production work to the United States. Hagel made clear in his letter to Congress last month that “I recommend that the $225 million noted above be exempt from the terms and conditions of the U.S-Israel Iron Dome Procurement Agreement” for the sake of expediting production. “However, all other funds appropriated by Congress for Iron Dome should remain subject to the terms and conditions of this signed international agreement,” he said of the FY ’15 money.