NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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Lawmakers have approved funding for a number of joint U.S.-Israeli projects.

Heard on the Hill

Near East Report offers a brief look at recent legislation pertaining to U.S.-Israeli cooperation in a number of fields, including missile defense and energy cooperation.

House Committee Approves Record Funding for U.S.-Israel Missile Defense

Earlier this month, the U.S. House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee approved record levels of funding for U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs. The increased funding will total $235.7 million in 2012.

"Given America’s significant budget challenges, every single dollar we are expending on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer must be given the highest level of scrutiny, including funds appropriated toward the defense of the United States and its allies," committee member Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) said following the funding approval. "It is a mark of the importance of these jointly developed missile defense programs—Arrow 2, Arrow 3 and David's Sling—that they were all robustly funded by our subcommittee."

The bill has to be voted on by the entire committee and no timeline has been set for its consideration. Missile defense has long been the cornerstone of U.S.-Israel military cooperation.

Funding Approved for U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation

The House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill this month, which includes $2 million in funding for the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Program. When complete, fiscal year 2012 will mark the fourth year of U.S. support for the program, which fosters joint ventures in clean technology, renewable energy and efficiency.

The U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Program counts six active projects in the areas of smart-grid management, biodiesel, photovoltaic and solar micro-turbines, in states such as California, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. As in the past, Israel will match U.S. funding dollar-for-dollar in this cost-sharing initiative.

The Appropriations Committee's approval is particularly noteworthy given the budgetary environment on Capitol Hill and lawmakers' general hesitancy toward anything resembling an earmark. The approval also represents the first time that the House has taken the lead in identifying this program for support, reflecting a growing appreciation for the bilateral energy relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) played a key role in ensuring that the U.S.-Israel energy provisions were included in the bill, which now moves to the House floor.

Defense Bill Amendment Reaffirms Support for Joint Strike Fighter

The U.S. House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee approved on June 14 an amendment to the fiscal year 2012 Defense Appropriations Bill, which reaffirms American support for the Joint Strike Fighter. The Joint Strike Fighter, also known as the F-35 Lightening II, is a multi-role fighter aircraft currently under development that Israel is seeking to purchase during the next decade.

Introducing the amendment before the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) stated that the completion of this project "lets our international partners know that we are committed to the success and completion of the Joint Strike Fighter, a program that is not only important to the U.S. but to many of our allies around the world." She also emphasized that the amendment sends a message to hostile countries that it is a priority of the United States to maintain air dominance.

The amendment was adopted with no objections. The fiscal year 2012 Defense Appropriations Bill now moves to the floor of the House.
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