March 1, 2018 - 7:15pm
This week, a third freshman congressman from the Sunshine State waded into Middle Eastern affairs and called for the U.S. to step up its commitment to defending Israel.
U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., unveiled the “United States-Israel Joint Drone Detection Cooperation Act” with U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., as the cosponsor. The bill authorizes the White House “to enter into a cooperative project agreement with Israel to counter unmanned aerial vehicles that threaten the United States or Israel.” Crist’s office noted drones launched by the Iranian regime could be a threat to Israeli.
"In the face of this new and growing threat, we have the opportunity to share our technology and expertise to the benefit of U.S. and Israeli security," Crist said on Tuesday when the bill was unveiled. "I thank my good friend Congressman Johnson for joining me in this effort. We call on Congress to act swiftly and strongly to fend off Iranian aggression and that of other adversaries in the region."
"As technology develops, we too must adapt to ensure the safety and security of our nation now and for generations to come," said Johnson. "I am proud to introduce this bill with my good friend, Congressman Crist, and look forward to further enhancing our decades-old alliance with Israel."
The bill was sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. So far, there is no counterpart over in the Senate.
Crist is not the only member of the Florida delegation focused on Israel’s security this week. Two other freshmen in the Florida delegation—Republican Brian Mast and Democrat Stephanie Murphy—teamed up to unveil a bill to help Israel defend itself.
On Tuesday, Murphy brought out the “Deterring and Defeating Rocket and Missile Threats to Israel Act” with Mast as a cosponsor. The bill would allow additional funds outside the current $500 million a year to Israel to defend itself against missile attacks. Murphy and Mast both noted that their would show the current $500 million a year is not a ceiling and the U.S. could send additional funds under exceptional circumstances. Back in 2016, the U.S. and Israel entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) indicating the U.S. would send more funds to Israel if needed for missile defense but Murphy’s bill would codify the agreement into law.
This is not the first time Crist and Johnson have worked together. Back in December, they teamed up to launch the Honor and Civility Caucus.
Crist’s office noted that thegroup was formed to “uphold and promote the ideals of civility and statesmanship and to restore trust and confidence in America’s political institutions" and “will work to foster more productive dialogue in Congress and to advance specific initiatives to improve the tone of the nation’s politics and public discourse.”