WASHINGTON – A House panel is boosting money for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system by $680 million amid an election-year fight over whether President Barack Obama is doing enough for the longtime Mideast ally.
The Republican-controlled Armed Services Committee, which begins crafting a fiscal 2013 defense budget next week, plans millions more for the system designed to intercept short-range rockets and mortars, according to a congressional aide. The money would be in addition to the $205 million that the Obama administration and Congress agreed to in a special request in the 2011 budget and would cover several years, through fiscal 2015.
An increase in money for the program was expected as the Pentagon said last month that it would work with Congress to steer more funds to a system that has proven effective in intercepting rockets and mortars fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza.
Obama’s budget for next year calls for $3.1 billion in military assistance for Israel, a slight increase over the current level.
Weather scuttles shuttle journey
NEW YORK – The space shuttle Enterprise’s scheduled arrival Monday in New York City has been pushed back because of possible bad weather.
The Enterprise is being brought to the city where it has a new permanent home waiting at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
NASA managers will reschedule the shuttle’s flight as soon as possible.
Commentator’s death ruled natural
LOS ANGELES – Commentator and editor Andrew Breitbart, a polarizing website publisher who once helped edit the Drudge Report and found his way to tea party stardom in recent years, died of heart failure and hardening of the arteries, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said Friday.
Coroner’s officials deemed the death “natural,” and toxicology tests detected no illicit drugs in Breitbart’s system. His blood-alcohol level was 0.04 percent.
Breitbart collapsed near his Los Angeles home March 1. He was 43.