In late September, House Democrats introduced a bill to provide $1 billion in funding for Israel’s missile defense system. The funding was abruptly pulled from a government funding package a day before the bill was voted on, leading to quick action by activists. The House approved the voting 420 – 9, which eight no’s from Democrats and one no from a Republican.
There was overall backlash from progressive Democrats. House Democrat Rashida Tlaib said, “I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses and violence. We cannot be talking only about Israelis need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system.”
The bill will now be sent to the Senate, where it will be voted on.
The passing of the bill has spurred many activists on social media to try to stop the passing of the bill in the US Congress, as well as an overall backlash at House Democrats for quickly pushing the bill to vote. In the Senate on Monday this week, Rand Paul blocked an attempt to expedite the vote. This block was not done in an effort to showcase the severity of Israeli apartheid and to oppose the occupation, but rather, Paul said that the US “cannot give money it does not have, no matter how strong our relationship is.”
In Congress every year, thousands of bills are introduced, yet only few of them become law. In 2014, out of 7,207 bills that were introduced to Congress, only 103 had become laws, Vox reports. To pass a bill in Congress, any bill would need a major supporter in each house of the legislative branch. After a major influencer is found to support the bill, a bill will be referred to a committee of jurisdiction. The major influencer would have to convince the committee’s chair that the bill is worth spending time on. After this, it is imperative to understand that the bill has to have organized interest from an outside group. The lobby for Israel, as a result, is extremely powerful in regulating bills about Israel passing in Congress. A bill needs, then, a way to pay for itself, in addition to having Senators who are in favor of this bill. Through this intensive process, a bill that is passed can be watered down from its original bill. On a macro level, the bill is passed, but on a micro level, the compromises made to pass a bill devalue the impact of the bill itself.
As the Treasury Department has set a deadline of October 18 for the US to run out of money, unless Congress raises the debt ceiling, it is questionable that Congress is passing bills to fund Israel’s defense system, a defense system that is a result of Israeli occupation in and of itself.