Today, the House approved a $500 million measure dedicated to the arming and training of Syrian rebels.
The authorization is limited in scope to training up to 5,000 members of the Syrian opposition in Saudi Arabia. It provides no new funding and requires the administration to provide status reports to Congress. The Obama administration said the mission may be funded by international contributions, but the resolution authorizes the Pentagon to shift funds from other accounts if necessary.
Although the vote was bipartisan (273-156), both Republicans and Democrats have serious concerns about the President’s plan to roll back ISIS.
Via the Washington Post:
Democrats are concerned that without clearly defined parameters passed by Congress in the coming months, new U.S. military operations in the Middle East could fester for several years with no clear strategy or definition of success.
Republicans have worried that Obama’s plans so far are too limited. One top GOP leader suggested Congress could go as far as giving the president blanket military authority, even if Obama doesn’t want it, when Congress holds a much broader debate after the November elections about the fight against Islamic terrorists.
Back in June, President Obama asked Congress for the funding needed to provide moderate (moderate?) Syrian rebels. His plan was to train rebels in neighboring, friendly countries like Jordan, and to provide small arms. He did not, however, ask for money to provide the anti-aircraft missiles the rebels have asked for. CBS reports that the President fears those types of weapons could easily fall into the hands of the opposition.
The Senate is also on track to approve this funding, but its support comes with the same concerns that plagued House members over six days of heated, meticulous debate:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a potential 2016 presidential candidate, opposes it. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced his opposition on the Senate floor Wednesday.
“I strongly believe that if our military arms and trains Syrian rebels, we will be involving ourselves in a ground conflict that we cannot resolve where potentially everyone involved is our enemy,” he said.
If the Senate approves the funding (and it’s very likely they will,) it will still be months before funds and arms actually make it to our curious new allies in the Middle East.DONATE
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