President Biden signed the annual defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), into law, which included bipartisan, bicameral provisions mirroring the DEFEND (Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defenses) Act – the first piece of legislation passed by the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus, which was introduced by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and includes Senators Rosen, Lankford, and Booker as original cosponsors. The DEFEND Act directs the Secretary of Defense to strategize with U.S. partners in the Middle East and establish an integrated air and missile defense architecture to combat the malign threat from Iran and its proxies.
“Iran’s continued malign actions in the Middle East and around the world necessitate the DEFEND Act’s inclusion in the annual defense bill. Developing an integrated air and missile defense infrastructure in the Middle East will help secure the homeland, safeguard our servicemembers, and defend our partners against the Iranian threat,” said Senator Ernst, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m incredibly proud this important bipartisan effort, spearheaded by the Abraham Accords Caucus, is now law. I look forward to our continued work to strengthen the historic Abraham Accords and combat Iran’s malign influence in the region.”
“It is critical that we continue to build upon the success of the Abraham Accords by working together with Israel and Arab partners to defend against air and missile threats from Iran and its terrorist proxies,” said Senator Rosen. “With our bipartisan, bicameral DEFEND Act now signed into law as part of the national defense package, the United States and our allies will be better able to integrate capabilities and improve our collective security to defend against Iranian aggression.”
“We cannot hope for peace; we must work to create peace. That is why the Abraham Accords are so essential to the future of the region, and this bill will make a significant step toward developing that strategic approach,” said Senator Lankford. “The passage of this bill also means that the US Department of Defense will be able to work to strengthen integrated air and missile defense capabilities to protect people and infrastructure from the ongoing threats from Iran. We can and must be smart about the realities existing in the region from Iran, but we must also continue to integrate people and commerce in the region toward a goal of lasting peace.”
Senator Ernst introduced the DEFEND Act alongside fellow Abraham Accords Caucus Co-Chairs Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). Companion legislation was also introduced in the House by Abraham Accords Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. David Trone (D-MD), and Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), as well as House Armed Services Committee Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.). The DEFEND Act was endorsed by: ADL; AIPAC; AJC; American Jewish Congress; CUFI Action; FDD Action; Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America; JFNA; JINSA; USIEA; and senior Middle East scholars at the Atlantic Council.