Retiring U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla., who sits on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, showcased her proposal to fund anti-tunnel defenses for Israel as part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The House supported the proposal on a 375-34 vote on Friday.
After one term in Congress, Graham decided not to run for a second term this year after her district became far more favorable to Republicans after the latest round of congressional redistricting. She has opened the door to running for governor, a job her father Bob Graham held for eight years, in 2018.
Graham looked back on her record on defense issues after the House voted on the NDAA, pointing to her efforts to launch an Army Reserve Center and Aviation Support Facility at MacDill Air Force Base and a mine countermeasure program at Naval Support Activity Panama City.
“I’m incredibly proud of all the work we’ve accomplished on the House Armed Services Committee. With a focus on working together, we've been able to make great progress for the men and women serving in our armed forces and for Florida,” Graham said. “I’m especially proud of all we've accomplished to protect defense programs at Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity Panama City and to clear the way for a new Army Reserve Center at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.”
Graham also showcased her “US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act” which was brought into last year’s NDAA. The proposal from Graham and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., developed a defense system in Israel to counter terrorists using tunnels to carry out their attacks. The sponsors of the bill compared it to the Iron Dome authorization in 2011. The Iron Dome defense system has prevented more than 1,200 rockets from hitting targets in Israel. The sponsors noted Hamas has already used almost $100 million to build tunnels which have been used for terrorist and smuggling operations, and said Israeli forces discovered 14 tunnels during the Gaza conflict in the summer of 2014.
In the new NDAA, Graham successfully led efforts to increase federal funding from $25 million to $50 million for anti-tunnel defenses.
“It’s been an honor to help strengthen the relationship between the United States and Israel,” Graham said on Friday. “This year we were able to double the funding for the joint anti-tunnel defense corporation program between our two countries. This legislation will play a vital role in strengthening our borders and protecting both our nations from terrorism.”