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McMorris Rodgers, Abraham Accords Caucus Introduce Bill to Unite Middle East Partners Against Iranian Aggression

June 09, 2022

Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and members of the Abraham Accords Caucus in the House and Senate today introduced legislation to unite Middle East partners as global threats from Iran and Iranian backed-extremists continue to rise. The bipartisan, bicameral Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defenses (DEFEND) Act is a joint effort by Congress to develop a strategy for Abraham Accords and other countries to combat Iranian aggression threatening peace and security in the Middle East.

The DEFEND Act authorizes the U.S. Secretary of Defense to cooperate with allies and partners in the Middle East–including those who signed the Abraham Accords–to develop and implement an integrated air and missile defense architecture to defend against Iranian threats. The bill also requires the Department of Defense to issue a report to Congress on the feasibility of establishing a fund for an integrated defense system to counter threats–including cruise and ballistic missiles, manned and unmanned aerial systems, and rocket attacks–as well as support defense efforts in the region and protect global security.

“Iran has proven time and time again that they will stop at nothing to threaten the safety and security of Israel and our allies in the Middle East working together to achieve peace in the region,” said Rodgers. “That progress towards a more hopeful future cannot continue unless the United States takes a stand against Iran’s escalating acts of aggression. The DEFEND Act sends a clear message that our country is prepared to do what it takes to help our allies protect themselves, save lives, and preserve the peace we’ve worked so hard to achieve.”

Rodgers was joined in introducing the DEFEND Act in the House by fellow Abraham Accords Caucus members, including Representatives David Trone (MD-06), Ann Wagner (MO-02), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Don Bacon (NE-02), and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20).

“Now, more than ever, Iran poses a threat to security and stability in the Middle East. History makes clear that we must work together to ensure the continued safety and peace in the region,” said Trone. “The DEFEND Act symbolizes the spirit of collaboration fostered by the Abraham Accords and signifies a critical measure that would help countries defend against Iranian threats. I urge my colleagues to support the protection of innocent lives.”

“I have always said that the Abraham Accords would transform Middle Eastern security, at last enabling responsible states to work together to keep each other safe from Iran’s destabilizing and violent agenda. I am hopeful we are witnessing the beginning of a new era of peace and prosperity in the Middle East,” said Wagner. “To further these accomplishments and safeguard that peace and prosperity, I am proud to support the DEFEND Act, legislation that will ensure the United States leads our Middle Eastern allies and partners in the creation of an integrated air and missile defense capability to deter an aggressive and erratic Iran.”

“Iran is on the one yard line in their pursuit of a nuclear weapon, and is threatening our allies in the region in numerous other ways. Strengthening our allies by building unity and enhancing shared security capabilities is critical to confronting Iranian threats to the region,” said Schneider. “US leadership, in developing integrated air and missile defense, would provide essential security, stability, and a unified defense to the region. The DEFEND Act is a prime example of the important, bipartisan, bicameral work that Congress must prioritize in our pursuit of regional peace and stability,” 

“The security of our partners in the Middle East is important for U.S. national security and is imperative in the wake of an increasingly violent Iranian regime,” said Bacon. “An integrated air and missile defense system is key to combating attacks from Iran and its proxies and improving regional stability. Air defense is also a force multiplier. When our allies and partners can defend themselves, it offers relief to U.S. forces.”

“Even as we continue to negotiate with Iran, Iranian aggression against our partners in the Middle East continues with missile and advanced drone attacks,” said Panetta.  “That is why I’m proud to join my bipartisan and bicameral colleagues in introducing the DEFEND Act.  This legislation would provide an integrated air and missile defense system to not only secure the skies in the Middle East, but also support and protect our partners and their partnership in their efforts for peace.”

The DEFEND Act was also introduced by members of the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus, including Senators Jon Ernst (R-IA), James Lankford (R-OK), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). 

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