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House Democrats remove $1 billion to fund Israel's Iron Dome from spending bill after threats from progressives
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats remove $1 billion to fund Israel's Iron Dome from spending bill after threats from progressives

House Democrats removed funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system after several progressive lawmakers threatened to derail a spending bill that would avert a government shutdown.

House Democrats on Tuesday introduced a short-term government funding bill that will fund the government through December this year as well as suspend the debt limit until December 2022. Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government by Oct. 6, or else there will be a shutdown until lawmakers agree to resolve their differences and pass a spending bill.

The 94-page bill includes $28.6 billion for disaster aid; $6.3 billion to resettle Afghan refugees; and language requested by Republicans to have the Pentagon issue a report on equipment left behind in Afghanistan, Politico reported.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that the debt limit would be tied to the government funding bill, setting up a confrontation with Senate Republicans, who have vowed to oppose any increase in the debt limit until Democrats agree to cut government spending.

However, a provision in the Democratic bill to spend $1 billion funding Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defense system infuriated progressive lawmakers. According to multiple congressional reporters, progressives told House Democratic leaders they would vote against the bill unless the money for Israel was removed.

According to Politico's Andrew Desiderio, the rebel group of lawmakers includes Reps. Alexandria Occasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Tuesday that Democratic leaders gave in to the demands of progressives and removed the controversial language from the spending bill.

If either Democrats in the House or Republicans in the Senate decline to pass the continuing resolution, the government will shut down on Oct. 6. If the government shuts down, non-essential government employees will be furloughed and national park services and other federally managed agencies will be temporarily closed. The last government shutdown occurred in December 2018 under President Donald Trump and lasted for 35 days, the longest in U.S. history.

More important than a potential shutdown is the debt limit. Failure to increase the debt limit — the amount of money the government is allowed to borrow to cover its payments — would potentially mean Congress would be unable to make its interest payments on the debt. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that failure to make the debt payment could "precipitate a historic financial crisis" and risk "widespread economic catastrophe."

By withholding GOP votes for a debt limit increase, Democrats are blaming Republicans for risking government default.

"Addressing the debt limit is about meeting obligations the government has already made, like the bipartisan emergency COVID relief legislation from December as well as vital payments to Social Security recipients and our veterans," Pelosi and Schumer wrote in a statement. "Furthermore, as the Administration warned last week, a reckless Republican-forced default could plunge the country into a recession."

They are also accusing Republicans of hypocrisy for supporting a nearly $8 trillion increase in the national debt and raising the debt limit three times over the four years President Donald Trump was in office.

Republicans, meanwhile, are saying that Democrats can use budget reconciliation to circumvent a filibuster and pass an increase in the debt limit without their support.

"[Democrats] got the votes to keep us from defaulting, let's see what they do," Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told Insider.

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