Rep. Beto O'Rourke cast a disappointing vote Friday against a measure to spend $225 million to replenish Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, which has effectively protected the U.S. ally as Hamas militants fired more than 2,700 rockets at Israeli targets in the past month.
The El Paso Democrat was among only eight House members who voted against the measure. The Senate passed it by voice vote.
O'Rourke's concern was that the bill was passed as Congress bolted from Washington for its August recess, with little debate.
"Considering that this quarter-billion dollar appropriation was unfunded (meaning we borrow this money) and considering the lives lost already and the desperate need for a political solution to this crisis, I strongly believe that a more comprehensive approach to this is needed," he said in a prepared statement.
O'Rourke's vote was sincere, with little political upside for him. And while there's certainly plenty of room for criticism of congressional process, O'Rourke is violating the old maxim of not making perfect the enemy of good.
There is near-universal concern about innocent lives lost in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. But Iron Dome has kept the civilian death toll lower than it would have been had Israel not built an effective defense system to protect its population.
O'Rourke previously has supported hundreds of millions of dollars to equip Iron Dome in the event Israel needed to protect its population.
So it's puzzling that when Israel successfully used the system and sought replenishment help, El Paso's congressman balked.
To make matters worse, O'Rourke's congressional Twitter account re-tweeted a comment hours before Friday's vote from a user called @Mosh_Lives that said: "@RepBetoOrourke Vote no on any funding to the Iron Dome or to Israel. Stop funding atrocities."
O'Rourke's congressional Twitter account deleted its retweet 36 minutes later, according to the conservative website Twitchy.com.
The congressman said the re-tweet was done by a staffer and he ordered it deleted because he disagreed with the message. O'Rourke vowed to tighten controls over his office Twitter account.
We agree with O'Rourke that the conflict in Gaza requires a political solution, not a military one.
Hundreds of Palestinian civilians, many of them children, have been killed because Hamas deliberately chose to wage war from civilian positions in order to draw Israeli fire in an attempt. It is a cynical ploy by Hamas to rebuild its waning support.
The solution to the conflict is certainly elusive. But it's difficult to see how withholding further funding for Israel's missile defenses, which saves lives, brings peace any closer.
—El Paso Times, Aug. 5