Mr. Speaker, today the House will vote on the bipartisan US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act.
This bill re-affirms Israel’s right to defend itself against threats and puts Congress on the record about America's long-standing commitment to the US-Israel strategic relationship, a unique and special relationship founded on shared interests and shared democratic values. My friend Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and I introduced this legislation to ensure that during a time of such instability, threats to Israeli and American security will be answered with strength and resolve.
Unfortunately, even during periods of calm, Israel lives in a tough neighborhood. And because our national interests are so often inextricably linked, Israel is often at the front-lines of responding to threats to both of our security. This is true when it comes to a shared fight against radical Islamist terrorism, and it is certainly true when it comes to Iran. This bill reiterates that our investment in Israel’s security is an investment in our own security.
I want thank Steny, as well as Chairman Ros-Lehtinen and Ranking Member Howard Berman, who joined us in drafting legislation. I thank them for their hard work and for their steadfast leadership as defenders of our greatest ally in the Middle East. The strong bipartisan support for this bill speaks to the importance and urgency with which we must address and enhance Israel’s ability to defend itself during a period of profound transition and instability.
Mr. Speaker, nearly 300 members of both parties have sponsored this bill and we hope to have many more in the final count. The House has always demonstrated a bipartisan commitment to the US-Israel relationship and today we say again: we refuse to send mixed messages when it comes to America’s support for Israel.
Today, we demonstrate Congressional support for important steps to make Israel and America more secure.
Among other things, this bill encourages the President to provide additional assistance to support US-Israel joint missile defense efforts such as Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow; allocate additional weaponry and munitions to the forward-deployed US stockpile located in Israel; strengthen multilateral efforts to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza and to protect against terrorism from the Sinai peninsula; expand already close intelligence cooperation between the US and Israel; protect Israel's Qualitative Military Edge and ensure that Israel remains the preeminent military power in the region; lobby against and veto the outrageous parade of one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations every year. The bill also extends the long-standing loan guarantee program for Israel, recognizing Israel’s perfect record of repaying its loans on time and in full.
Mr. Speaker, this could be a very hot summer in the Middle East. Egypt is likely to elect an Islamist government. While we all hope Egypt’s new government keeps the peace that has held for 30 years, the future is uncertain.
Syria is consumed by civil war, with a vicious dictator backed by Iran and Hizballah murdering his own citizens, fueling sectarian tensions and giving rise to radicalism.
Iran continues its decades-long effort to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. Sanctions may be hurting Iran’s economy, but Iran’s leaders thus far remain wedded to pursue their dangerous goal. Iran continues to support terrorism, providing lethal support to Hizballah, Hamas, and the Taliban. The United States and Israel share an important strategic goal: preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and combating its terrorist proxies.
This bill recognizes the profound threats the US and Israel face in the region and reiterates our commitment to standing side by side with Israel during this pivotal and dangerous period of transition and instability.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)
House Floor Remarks