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Chris Murphy among 17 senators opts out of letter for increased Israel defense aid


CT senator reaffirms his support for the Jewish state

HARTFORD–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy is among 17 lawmakers—13 Democrats, three Republicans, and one independent—who opted not to join the strong bipartisan support for a letter arguing that Israel should receive increased annual defense aid from America. Connecticut’s junior senator, Richard Blumenthal, was among the letter’s signatories.

The letter, initiated by U.S. Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and signed by 83 senators, was addressed to President Barack Obama. It cites a number of security threats facing Israel that justify “investment in the long-term security requirements” for America’s “closest Middle East ally.” Israel is hoping that its U.S. defense package will rise from the current $3.1 billion per year to between $4 and $4.5 billion annually, while the Obama administration has proposed a target of $3.7 billion.

When asked by the Ledger why he withheld his signature, Murphy explained, “I am in full support of increased defense aid for Israel. I did have some concerns about one short sentence in the letter that implied the Iran Deal will inevitably fail. When I told the authors I would sign the letter if they would just modify that one sentence, they declined.”

At the same time, he released his own statement reaffirming his support of increased defense aid for the Jewish state.

“With Hezbollah and Hamas continuing to pose a dangerous threat to Israel’s national security, American support for Israel has never been so important,” the statement read. “I have been pleased that the Obama Administration has taken military and security assistance and coordination between our two governments to levels never before seen. I appreciate the administration’s ongoing work to modernize the Memorandum of Understanding in order to increase American security assistance to Israel, and I hope that a long-term agreement will be presented to Congress as soon as possible.”

In addition to Murphy and Senator Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential hopeful from Vermont, the letter was not signed by the following 15 senators: Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), John Tester (D-Mont.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

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