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AOC explains why she voted 'present' on the bill to fund Israel's Iron Dome—and why she cried

The Democratic Representative switched her vote from "no" to "present" at the last minute, disappointing her constituents.

AOC explains why she voted 'present' on the bill to fund Israel's Iron Dome—and why she cried
Image Source: Postmaster General To Testify To House Committee About Department's Ability To Handle Mail In Voting. WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 24. (Photo by Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voted "present" on a bill to direct $1 billion in United States funding towards an Iron Dome missile-defense system in Israel—a decision which moved her to tears. In a letter to her constituents released on Friday, she explained what prompted the emotional reaction and why she chose to vote "present" rather than against the bill. The funding would enable the continued military and political occupation of Palestine and its displaced population. Only eight Democrats and one Republican voted against the measure, whereas Ocasio-Cortez and one other member chose to vote "present" on the bill, CNN reports.


"Yes, I wept. I wept at the complete lack of care for the human beings that are impacted by these decisions, I wept at an institution choosing a path of maximum volatility and minimum consideration for its own political convenience," the Democrat writes in her letter. "And I wept at the complete lack of regard I often feel our party has to its most vulnerable and endangered members and communities - because the death threats and dangerous vitriol we'd inevitably receive by rushing such a sensitive, charged, and under-considered vote weren't worth delaying it for even a few hours to help us do the work necessary to open a conversation of understanding."


According to the Representative, the "rushed" manner in which the bill was voted on "created very real spillover effects." She stated, "It created a real sense of panic and horror among those in our community who otherwise engage thoughtfully in these discussions, and fueled the discussion to devolve to a point where it became clear that this vote would risk a severe devolution of the good-faith community fabric that allows us to responsibly join in a struggle for human rights and dignity everywhere—from Palestine to The Bronx and Queens."


Many were disappointed with Ocasio-Cortez, who otherwise votes on a progressive platform. She attempts to address this in her letter. She notes, "For far too long, the US has handed unconditional aid to the Israeli government while doing nothing to address or raise the persistent human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, and that this imbalance of power must be centered in any honest conversation about Israel and Palestine... It's time to have serious conversations about conditioning military aid." The Representative also took the time to apologize to her constituents who felt let down by her stance.


"To those who believe this reasoning is insufficient or cowardice—I understand," the Squad member atones. "To those who asked me to quell the volatility of this moment in our community, which constituted the majority of constituent feedback our office received—I hope we can take this moment and opportunity to more deeply engage in and grow a true, substantive movement of community support for human rights around the world - which includes cherishing and respecting the human rights of Palestinian people." The Iron Dome has for several years been heavily sponsored by the US government. The recently approved legislation would specifically provide funding to replace missile interceptors that were utilized during supposed attacks on the militant group Hamas in May this year.


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