Mandatory caps due to resume this year for the U.S. defense budget could complicate Congress’ ability to honor Israel’s request for $317 million in extra funding for missile defense programs on top of $158 million already requested by the White House.
U.S. lawmakers continue to strongly support Israel, but congressional aides said Israel’s push for over $475 million in U.S. funding for missile defense programs in fiscal 2016 could run into trouble if Congress does not ease or rescind budget caps on the overall level of the U.S. defense budget.
“We’ve been very generous with the Israelis … but the first step is to see where we are on the budget resolution. Anything else is putting the cart before the horse,” said one aide on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.
A second aide cited “frustration” about the size of the Israeli request given the current budget uncertainty.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter and other U.S. officials have warned that cutting the Pentagon’s proposed 2016 budget by $38 billion to stick to the caps would harm the U.S. military’s ability to respond to crises around the world.
It remains unclear if deficit hawks in the Republican-controlled Congress will agree to lift the budget caps.