In probably one of the worst decisions to come out of Washington since the decision to invade Iraq under President George W Bush, the Senate piled on and passed the bill to ‘train moderate Syrian rebels to fight ISIS’ that easily passed the House yesterday.
What an incredible waste of American resources…and many of those very same legislators who decried President Obama’s broadcasting when he intended to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan…actually built in a December 11 sunset date by adding the Syrian authorization to an budget extension bill…because, well once again we are two weeks away from the new fiscal year without a budget…but I digress.
The Senate gave overwhelming approval on Thursday to a measure on the training and arming of Syrian rebels, then fled the Capitol for the fall campaign, sidestepping the debate over the extent of American military action until the lame-duck session of Congress later this year.
The training measure, pushed hard by President Obama, was tucked into a larger Senate bill to keep the government funded past Sept. 30, a maneuver that leaders of both parties favored to ensure as few defections as possible. The Senate’s 78-to-22 vote, a day after the House passed the measure, masked the serious doubts that many senators had.
The broader debate over Congress’s role in blessing or expanding a new military campaign in the Middle East was one that few on Capitol Hill wanted just six weeks before the midterm elections.
And hopeful presidential candidate Rand Paul:
“I’m not sending your son, your daughter over to the middle of that chaos,” said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, whose libertarian views have propelled him into contention for his party’s 2016 nomination. “The people who live there need to stand up and fight.”
He added, “I am not giving up, but it is their war, and they need to fight.”
An unusual but overwhelming coalition in the House voted Wednesday to authorize the training and arming of Syrian rebels to confront the militant Islamic State, backing President Obama after he personally pleaded for support.
The 273-to-156 vote was over a narrow military measure with no money attached, but it took on outsize importance and was infused with drama, reflecting the tension and ambiguity of members wary of the ultimate path to which any war vote could lead.
There was rare unity between House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, who strongly backed the training legislation and sought to portray it as a modest measure. And the opposition included the equally unlikely pairings of antiwar Democrats and hawkish Republicans.
Only two of Wisconsin’s eight House members voted for the resolution — Democrat Ron Kind and Republican Paul Ryan.
And the six who voted no included lawmakers with very disparate views on intervention.
Democrat Mark Pocan, who opposed the resolution, said he feared this would turn out to be a much bigger military commitment than advertised. “All of this sounds like it’s looking a lot more like a war rather than a very limited engagement,” he said in an interview.
But Republican Jim Sensenbrenner expressed almost the opposite rationale for voting no, saying his fault with the administration’s approach was that it was tepid. “We need to annihilate them,” he said in an interview.
Republican Reid Ribble said his opposition was both procedural and substantive. “The president didn’t need authorization. We train troops around the world all the time,” he said. “And I personally was not convinced we knew who we were training.”
Also voting no were Republicans Sean Duffy and Tom Petri and Democrat Gwen Moore.
In voting yes, Kind said he opposes committing combat troops to the region. But he said in a statement: “The step we took today is the best of the bad options that we have. … It gives the president bipartisan support to help him build a coalition in opposition to this growing threat, provides oversight resulting in greater accountability and is the best plan to avoid putting combat troops on the ground.”
And then they all left town to continue their campaigns…
And unfortunately, I had a graphic from the NY Times showing the vote nationally for both houses, but I lost it. I will add it later if I find it again.