House Expected to Vote on Training Syrian Rebels to Fight ISIS

New York Times – by JONATHAN WEISMAN

WASHINGTON — The House will likely vote Wednesday to grant President Obama the authority to train and equip Syrian rebels to battle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but Republicans will insist on a detailed accounting of how the program fits into a broader strategy to defeat the militants, Republican aides said Monday.

House Republican leaders plan to offer the ISIS legislation as an amendment to a broader bill to keep the government funded into December and the Export-Import Bank open through June. The Senate would try to pass the bill by the end of the week.  

The bipartisan effort to aid Mr. Obama’s campaign against ISIS is colliding with a separate fight among Republicans over the Export-Import Bank, which guarantees loans to overseas customers of U.S. exporters but which conservatives denounce as crony capitalism. Some conservative Republicans in the House are eager to oppose any measure that extends the agency’s life but reluctant to vote against the ISIS measure. They had hoped the two issues would be broken into separate bills.

But Republican leaders, eager to get their candidates back on the campaign trail, rebuffed their conservative colleagues. They argued that Senate Democratic leaders would have rolled the authorization for the Syrian rebels into the funding and Export-Import Bank bill anyway, then sent the package back to the House for yet another vote.

Conservatives who wanted a broader authorization of military force against ISIS are expected to come up empty as well.

Instead, House leaders want to leave an imprint on the ISIS bill. The amendment, as redrafted by the House Armed Services Committee, will require the Obama administration, 15 days before the program begins, to report to Congress how the training and equipping of Syrian rebels fits with a broader strategy to defeat ISIS, how the military plans to vet participants and how officers plan to stop the kinds of attacks by pupils on U.S. forces that have plagued training efforts in Afghanistan.

The bill also mandates that every 90 days, the administration will update Congress on the program’s performance, how many trainees might have gone over to ISIS and how trainees are using U.S. military equipment.

An Armed Services Committee official said the reporting language was similar to oversight requirements imposed on military training efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Finally, the legislation makes it clear that Congress is authorizing only the training of Syrian rebels and is not giving a green light to a broader use of military force against ISIS. It includes no additional money for the training effort, but does allow the administration to accept contributions from foreign powers, in cash or in kind.

How quickly the ISIS legislation reaches the president’s desk will be up to Senate Republicans, who could use delaying tactics to stretch the debate out a week. Senate Democratic aides say they are counting on Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in a tough re-election fight in Kentucky, to keep delays to a minimum and allow incumbents to get back to their states.

Aside from the ISIS and Export-Import Bank fights, both chambers of Congress will use the few remaining days before the election break to pass bills they hope will resonate with voters, but which have no chance of becoming law. The House this week will reprise many of the anti-regulatory bills already passed this year as a comprehensive “jobs” package. Lawmakers will do the same for a series of bills to cut regulations and promote development for the energy industry.

The Senate will try to pass a bill to assist college graduates with their student loan debt, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will address both chambers on Thursday.

6 thoughts on “House Expected to Vote on Training Syrian Rebels to Fight ISIS

  1. Is that these rebels : “Jihadists from the Islamic State have agreed a ceasefire with Syrian rebels in a suburb of the capital Damascus, it has been revealed.
    The deal was agreed between Isis and moderate and Islamist rebels in Hajar al-Aswad, south of the city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. ”
    Or these : “Rebels from northern and eastern Syria on Wednesday threatened to lay down their arms in a week if the country’s exiled opposition does not help them fight the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
    Or these :
    “An Israeli intelligence asset, reports the ISIS and al-Nusra effort to wrest control of the border area away from the Syrian army was assisted by by Israel, Jordan and the United States:

    Israel acted as a member, along with the US and Jordan, of a support system for rebel groups [ISIS, al-Nusra] fighting in southern Syria. Their efforts are coordinated through a war-room which the Pentagon established last year near Amman. The US, Jordanian and Israeli officers manning the facility determine in consultation which rebel factions are provided with reinforcements from the special training camps run for Syrian rebels in Jordan, and which will receive arms.”
    Or these :
    “the spokesman for Steven Sotloff’s family said that the journalist, who was beheaded by Islamic State fighters last week, was believed to have been sold to the group by Syrian rebels for as much as $50,000.”

    Maybe it is just my Alzheimers kicking in, but I have to admit that I am confused.

  2. We already did arm and train the “Syrian rebels”, they’re now known as “ISIS”. I guess these must be new “Syrian rebels”. I got a better idea, why doesn’t the United States stay the hell out of the Middle East and avoid all this war and conflict. Oh, that’s right, we have “dual-citizens” from Israel controlling everything here.

  3. Training ISIS to fight ISIS. Brilliant. No one ever accused the US Politicians of being the brightest crayon in the box.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.