Taxpayer Support for Israel The National Defense Authorization Act 2019 Edition

The United States Senate has just passed H.R. 5515 better known as the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (aka the NDAA), a bill that will cost U.S. taxpayers a total of $716.3 billion.

The final version (conference report) of the NDAA for 2019 was passed easily in the House with a vote of 359 yeas and 54 nays as shown here with 15 members not voting:

As you can see, there were some splits along party lines:

The final version of the NDAA was also overwhelmingly approved by the Senate with a vote of 87 yeas to 10 nays (and 3 non-voters) as shown here:

The NDAA for fiscal 2019 which underwent 666 amendments, 639 of which came from the Senate and 27 of which came from the House now heads to Donald Trump’s office for a quick “pencil-whipping”.

One interesting aspect of the NDAA for fiscal 2019 that hasn’t received a great deal of coverage in the United States is the support that American taxpayers are providing to Israel which is mentioned 34 times in the bill.

As background, in 2014, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act was signed into law (Public Law 113-296), strengthening the military links between the United States and Israel.  The bill received unanimous support in the Senate and won by a 410 to 1 margin in the House. 

With that in mind, let’s look at what we find in the current iteration of the National Defense Authorization Act as it relates to Israel.  In Section 1265, Enhancement of U.S. – Israel defense co-operation, there are several points of interest:

“(a) Extension Of War Reserves Stockpile Authority.—Section 12001(d) of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2005 (Public Law 108–287; 118 Stat. 1011) is amended by striking “after September 30, 2018” and inserting “after September 30, 2023”.

According to AIPAC, an additional $1 billion in U.S. weapons will be stockpiled in Israel under the U.S. War Reserve Stock Allies – Israel (aka WRSA-I) which has been authorized for an additional five years as you can see here:

Here is a look at the past increases to the WRSA-I showing how support crosses party lines:

– FY1991: P.L. 101-513, the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for FY1991, authorized additions to defense articles in Israel up to $200 million in value for FY1991.

– FY1993: P.L. 102-391, the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for FY1993, authorized additions to defense articles in Israel up to $100 million in value for FY1993.

– FY1994: P.L. 103-87, the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for FY1994, authorized additions to defense articles in Israel up to $200 million in value for FY1994.

– FY1995: P.L. 103-306, the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for FY1995, authorized additions to defense articles in Israel up to $100 million for FY1995.

– FY2007-FY2008: Section 13(a)(2)(A)(i) of the Department of State Authorities Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-472) amended Section 514 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (P.L. 87-195; 22 U.S.C. §2321h) to authorize additions to defense articles in Israel of up to $200 million in value for each of FY2007 and FY2008.55

– FY2011-FY2012: P.L. 111-266, the Security Cooperation Act of 2010, authorized additions to defense articles in Israel up to $200 million in value for each of FY2011 and FY2012.

– FY2014-FY2015: P.L. 113-296, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014, authorized additions to defense articles in Israel up to $200 million in value for each of FY2014 and FY2015.

– FY2016-FY2017: Section 7034(k)(11)(B) of.P.L.114-113, the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act, authorized additions to defense articles in Israel up to $200 million in value for each of FY2016 and FY2017.

Here is another interesting Israel-related expense in Section 1265 of the NDAA:

“(b) Joint Assessment Of Quantity Of Precision Guided Munitions For Use By Israel.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The President, acting through the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, is authorized to conduct a joint assessment with the Government of Israel with respect to the matters described in paragraph (2).

(2) MATTERS DESCRIBED.—The matters described in this paragraph are the following:

(A) The quantity and type of precision guided munitions that are necessary for Israel to combat Hezbollah in the event of a sustained armed confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah.

(B) The quantity and type of precision guided munitions that are necessary for Israel in the event of a sustained armed confrontation with other armed groups and terrorist organizations such as Hamas.

(C) The resources the Government of Israel plans to dedicate to acquire such precision guided munitions.

(D) United States planning to assist Israel to prepare for sustained armed confrontations described in this subsection as well as the ability of the United States to resupply Israel in the event of confrontations described in subparagraphs (A) and (B), if any.

In Section 1654, Iron Dome Short-Range Rocket Defense System and Israeli Cooperative Missile Defense Co-Development and Co-Production, we find the following:

1.) Iron Dome Defense System:

“Of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for fiscal year 2019 for procurement, Defense-wide, and available for the Missile Defense Agency, not more than $70,000,000 may be provided to the Government of Israel to procure components for the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system through co-production of such components in the United States by industry of the United States.”

2.) David’s Sling:

“… of the funds authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2019 for procurement, Defense-wide, and available for the Missile Defense Agency not more than $50,000,000 may be provided to the Government of Israel to procure the David’s Sling Weapon System, including for co-production of parts and components in the United States by United States industry.”

3.) Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor:

“…of the funds authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2019 for procurement, Defense-wide, and available for the Missile Defense Agency not more than $80,000,000 may be provided to the Government of Israel for the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor Program, including for co-production of parts and components in the United States by United States industry.

According to the final budget numbers, $300 million is to be set aside for Israeli Co-operative Programs bringing the total for missile defense and co-operative efforts to $500 million.  

In addition, $50 million has been set aside for counter-tunnel defense.  In previous fiscal years, American taxpayers have spent the following on Israel’s anti-tunnelling efforts:

FY 2016 – $40 million

FY 2017 – $42.5 million

FY 2018 – $47.5 million

Here is the “Sense of the Senate” regarding Israel and its U.S.-supplied missile defense system:

It is important to continue to work with allies and trusted partners, such as Israel, to learn from their experience deploying successful missile defense technologies.

That’s just what Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon et al love to hear!

While the actual spending on Israel forms a small fraction of the total defense budget for 2019, the $550 million in additional funds (above and beyond Washington’s foreign military aid obligations of $3.3 billion to Israel which are budgeted for fiscal 2019) in the name of security for Israel in fiscal year 2019 is still significant and amounts to well more than the interest owing on the federal debt.  As you can see, it is very costly for United States taxpayers to maintain the current geopolitical advantage that Israel has in the Middle East.

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