09.15.14

Los Angeles Times: Obama's request to arm Syrians faces skepticism before Congress votes

Lisa Mascaro reports on Congressional opinions towards arming rebels in Syria.

President Obama's request for Congress to authorize the training and equipping of Syrian rebels seemed a modest piece of the administration's new offensive against Islamic State militants.

But it has proved to be anything but easy as skeptical lawmakers appear to have more questions than resolve to approve it.

A hoped-for Tuesday vote in the House has been pushed to later in the week as leaders struggled over the weekend to draft a resolution that could win support from a broad, bipartisan swath of lawmakers. It was expected to be released Monday.

Many members of Congress, though, now want to engage not only on the narrow request to arm the Syrian rebels but also the broader administrative strategy against the militants, also known as ISIS.

On Monday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) introduced a measure that would authorize the use of military force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria for the next 18 months -- a larger question than the one the administration has asked of Congress and one that would likely be more difficult to pass Congress.

The president has claimed the authority for directing the Pentagon's campaign of air strikes against the militants under the broad powers granted by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and in the 2002 run-up to the war in Iraq.

But lawmakers increasingly argue those decade-old authorizations must be revisited by Congress, which until recently had been content to sit on the sidelines as the administration led the offensive.

Schiff, who has long pushed for a new vote, was introducing his measure "so that the president and our Armed Forces may know that the Congress stands behind them -- and that we too have done our duty," he said.

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By:  Lisa Mascaro
Source: Los Angeles Times