The two South Florida representatives in charge of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee—chairwoman U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and ranking Democrat U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.---are looking to ensure the U.S. and Israel remain close allies.
Last week, Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch unveiled the “United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act” which, according to Ros-Lehtinen’s office, “affirms the bipartisan support for the unshakeable U.S. - Israel relationship and for Israel’s right to defend herself” by following the funding levels established in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two nations back in 2016. The proposal continues those levels for an additional five years, extending it to FY2019-23.
On Thursday, the two representatives released a joint statement on the matter.
“As recent events have shown, new threats to Israel are constantly evolving,” they said. “Israel has no choice but to adapt to these changes, and to do so, it is going to need continued and expanded assistance from and cooperation with the United States. Our two nations share a long, close and strategic relationship based on mutual interests and mutual ideals. Our bill recognizes the need for increased assistance to Israel to defend herself, protect Israeli citizens from current threats, and address new and emerging threats to Israel and our mutual interests. With this bill, Congress has a unique opportunity to advance our own national security interests, help defend and increase cooperation with one of our closest allies, and get back in the business of authorizing foreign assistance. We look forward to working with our colleagues to pass the United States-Israel Security Assistance Act with overwhelming bipartisan support.”
The bill was sent to the House Foreign Affairs Armed Services and the Science, Space, and Technology Committees last week.
Other members of the Florida delegation focused on supporting Israel last week. U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., introduced the “Deterring and Defeating Rocket and Missile Threats to Israel Act” with U.S Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla. as a cosponsor. Murphy’s proposal adds additional funds besides the current $500 million a year to Israel to defend itself against missile attacks. Also last week, 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.