When the U.S. House overwhelmingly approved $1 billion to resupply Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system on Sept. 23, Democrat Hank Johnson, who represents the 4th District in metro Atlanta, voted “present.”
The bill passed by a vote of 409 to 9, with two abstentions: Johnson and New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who initially voted “no” and then changed her vote to “present.” Eight of the nine “no” votes were cast by Democrats, and one by a Republican.
In a statement to the AJT, Johnson, an eight-term congressman from DeKalb County, said: “I supported the $3.8 billion in military assistance to Israel as agreed to by President Obama. An additional $1 billion on top of what U.S. taxpayers have already paid for Israel’s Iron Dome defense constitutes about 60 percent of what the United States has provided for that specific defense allocation over the past decade. I don’t think the additional $1 billion is justified, particularly given the assessment that the former Israeli Prime Minister was the driving force behind the conflict, which gave rise to this exorbitant emergency request.”
Johnson did not explain why, given his opposition, he did not vote against the measure, rather than abstaining. The other 13 members of Georgia’s congressional delegation — eight Republicans and five Democrats — voted in favor of the spending.
According to the Congressional Research Service, through fiscal year 2020, Israel had received more than $1.65 billion from the U.S. to fund Iron Dome batteries, interceptors, co-production costs, and maintenance. The additional $1 billion would be used to replace interceptors expended during Israel’s war in May, when Hamas fired an estimated 4,360 rockets toward Israel from Gaza.
However, as of the second week of December, Republican Sen. Ron Paul of Kentucky had stalled a Senate vote on the $1 billion, as he sought to have the money removed from proposed aid to Afghanistan.