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US lawmakers boost funding for Israel's Iron Dome

July 16, 2014 11:26 P.M. (Updated: July 17, 2014 12:56 P.M.)
WASHINGTON (AFP) -- A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a 50 percent funding boost for Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system.

The measure, if it becomes law, would provide $621.6 million for Israeli missile defense programs for the 2015 fiscal year starting in October, including $351 million for the short-range Iron Dome system that has been put to the test over the past eight days.

Congress appropriated $235 million to Iron Dome last year.

The White House had requested about $176 million for the system for 2015, but lawmakers doubled the amount. Congress often increases funding for Israeli security projects sought by the president.

The funding is part of the administration's request of $3.1 billion for military assistance to Israel, the world's largest beneficiary of US foreign aid.

In May, the House of Representatives adopted its own National Defense Authorization Act, which matches the Senate's Iron Dome funding proposal.

The Senate measure is part of an overall Defense Department spending bill backed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday that commits $549.3 billion to military operations for 2015.

The package keeps several Pentagon projects that had been on the chopping block, including the tank-killing A-10 planes Senator John McCain described as "the best close-air support weapon in our nation's arsenal."

The measure still has to be approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and the full Senate.
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