Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. — Rita Mae Brown
The White House is asking Congress to quickly authorize arming Syrian rebels to bolster President Barack Obama’s offensive against Islamic State militants, a request that could be voted on as soon as this week in a must-pass spending bill.
As Obama prepares to address the nation Wednesday night, administration officials were meeting behind closed doors on Capitol Hill to press the issue with key lawmakers, many of whom panned the idea when Obama first raised it this year.
Although the request would earmark $500 million to help Syrian rebels, it is not the money that is in question but the policy of the U.S. arming foreign fighters, particularly rebel factions whose allegiances are not always clear.
Congress was previously expected to consider Obama’s request later this year when it voted on a larger defense-spending bill, but the president wants to accelerate the process to give him greater authority to train Syrian rebels to help confront the militant group.The White House is asking Congress to quickly authorize arming Syrian rebels to bolster President Barack Obama’s offensive against Islamic State militants, a request that could be voted on as soon as this week in a must-pass spending bill.
BAR’s Glen Ford nails the real reason… Assad!
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden made calls to lawmakers today urging them to authorize the Defense Department to begin training and equipping vetted groups within the Syrian opposition.
Obama is preparing to expand the U.S. offensive against Islamic State extremists, including targeting the group’s havens inside Syria.
The president is renewing a request he made in June for Congress to provide $500 million to pay for training and equipping Syrian rebel groups as a way to add a ground force to take on the Islamic State in Syria.
‘They know that Syria has to be a piece of the plan,’ said former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Jane Harman, one of a group of outside foreign experts Obama consulted over a three-hour dinner at the White House on Sept. 8. ‘He’s seriously considering all options.’
Meanwhile, from Baghdad our POSSOS boasted…
David Weigel, in Slate, wrote on the political (ill)will in DC…
I’m finishing up a piece about Congress’s thinking on intervention in Iraq, and how this has been colored by being lied to 12 years ago. From talking to members and senators yesterday, I got the strong impression that Congress was ready to punt on most of the hard decisions. There was little desire for a full vote unless the president was asking for a commitment that could last years, or could go into Syria. Most people, when asked about a vote, seemed to be looking for a way around it.
‘It’s always wise to do that,’ shrugged Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, ‘although I always tend to give the president leeway in these matters. It’s a tough job, being president.’
The pattern was this: Republicans would explain why a feckless and failing President Obama let Iraq fall to pieces, and then commit to supporting (with or without a vote) an action that made sense. Jonathan Weisman has the latest on what the president wants. This week, he called up House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rodgers to ask that the CR that was to be voted on tomorrow be padded with funds for Syrian fighters. Ed O’Keefe talked to Rodgers:
‘They’ve known about this problem for over a year, they’ve known that we were getting to do a [spending bill] and just as I was ready to drop it in the hopper, the president calls and asks if we would consider this. In good faith, we’re trying to get briefed up on what the request is, and it’s a complicated, big-time change in policy that I’d hate to see us attach to a continuing resolution at the very last minute.’
See the pattern? Obama screwed up; here’s his money. There’s no detectable conservative rebellion to this aspect of the CR. There’s not much grumbling about the $5 billion counterterrorism fund that Obama’s been asking for. Rather, conservatives (including the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, who do this so frequently that I need to install a keyboard shortcut) are calling for the CR to be stripped of Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, or they’ll oppose the thing.
In wrapping up…