US Senate Approves $500 Million to Arm Syrian Militants
Despite loud warnings from many quarters—including foreign policy experts, the anti-war left and dissenting CIA analysts—that such a move could prove disastrous, the U.S. Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to approve $500 million in government funds to help arm, train, and support so-called moderate military forces inside Syria.
The 78-22 vote—which came packaged as part of a continuing resolution for broader government spending—received bipartisan support with only 9 Democrats, 12 Republicans, and one independent (Sen. Bernie Sanders) voting against it. (See the full roll call vote here.)
Approved earlier in the week by the House of Representatives, the legislation is now headed for President Obama’s desk where he is likely to sign it.
Obama has said that he does not think he needs Congressional approval for his overall strategy to confront the militant group known as the Islamic State (or ISIS) that has no taken over large swaths of territory in both Iraq and Syria. Simultaneously, however, the president has tried to garner as many visible signs of support from lawmakers as possible. The votes this week offer him plenty of cover as the Pentagon continues to make plans for expected, though deeply controversial, airstrikes against ISIS targets inside Syria.
As Obama has deployed increasing numbers of ground troops back into Iraq in recent weeks and expanded the U.S. bombing campaign, lawmakers have largely stood aside.
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