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Paul again blocks unanimous consent vote on Iron Dome supplemental funding

The Kentucky senator has blocked the funding four times in recent months

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is seen in the Senate Reception Room before the fifth day of the Senate Impeachment trials for former President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill on February 13, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Wednesday blocked a unanimous consent request to authorize $1 billion in supplemental funding for Iron Dome, the fourth time in recent months that the Kentucky senator has taken to the Senate floor to halt attempts to replenish Israel’s missile-defense system.

Paul has demanded an amendment that would redirect funding for the additional funding from $6 billion in aid currently earmarked for Afghanistan. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

“The next chance to fix this will probably be the omnibus [spending package] in February,” a Senate source told Jewish Insider on Wednesday — although Senate leadership may face challenges in finalizing the appropriations bill.

Wednesday’s vote was sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The Connecticut senator had made a request for unanimous consent in October, which was also blocked by Paul, as were similar efforts by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

“In total, 4,400 rockets were launched by Hamas. If the Iron Dome had failed, countless Israeli civilians would have been killed. The system performed exceptionally well and it showed its necessity for both humanitarian and strategic defensive purposes,” Blumenthal said on the Senate floor, adding, “We cannot continue to use the U.S.-Israel relationship as a political football.”

The entire Democratic caucus and all Republicans except for Paul are supporting the funding, which will help Israel replenish its Iron Dome system after the May conflict with Hamas in Gaza. 

In September, the House voted 420-9 in favor of providing the supplemental funding.

Wrapping the supplemental funding into the February omnibus bill — which would receive a Senate floor vote requiring 60 votes for passage — would make it more difficult for Paul to continue to fight passage of the additional funding.