House Passes Defense Bill With Strong Pro-Israel Provisions
The House of Representatives today adopted the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2015 containing several key pro-Israel provisions helping our democratic ally meet critical defense needs during this period of heightened regional instability. The legislation also affirms America’s opposition to Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon and support of Israel’s ability to defend itself against the Islamist regime.
The bill authorizes $350.9 million for the Iron Dome rocket defense system and $268.7 million for several U.S.-Israel cooperative missile and rocket defense programs including David’s Sling and Arrow 3. The House adopted an amendment by Reps. Peter Roskam (R- Il) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) which reiterates that it is “the policy of the United States to take all necessary steps to ensure that Israel possesses and maintains an independent capability to remove existential threats to its security and defend its vital national interests.” It requires a report every 180 days that the President submits to Congress on the status of various Qualitative Military Edge (QME) issues for Israel. Also adopted was an amendment by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) which states that, “Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States to fully support Israel’s lawful exercise of self-defense, including actions to halt regional aggression.”
Importantly, the NDAA measure reinforces three key elements of American policy on Iran: tough diplomacy to dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons infrastructure, strong sanctions enforcement, and a credible military option.
The legislation stresses that any agreement with Iran must prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. The provision reflects current law and serves as a reminder that Congress must be involved in any lifting of statutory sanctions. Another provision affirms the importance of a congressional oversight role by requiring the Obama administration to report on the status of Iran’s nuclear program and its compliance with the interim nuclear agreement.
In related provisions, the measure expresses strong support for U.S. allies in the region affected by the Iranian threat, including Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council. It advocates strengthening the U.S. forward military presence to deter Iran from any aggressive military action and to improve America’s military capability to address such a threat.
AIPAC commends Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) of the House Armed Services Committee for their leadership in passing this important legislation.