In a 78-22 vote today, the Senate passed the same bill the House of Representative passed yesterday approving the Obama Administration’s plan to train and arm a new faction of some 5,000 “vetted and moderate” Syrian rebels.
The plan is to recruit various existing Syrian rebels to go off and train as a new force fitting the US ideal of a “moderate” rebel faction to back, and then in a year send them back to Syria to fight ISIS.
Despite considerable reticence about the plan apparent during Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, the vote was not particularly close.
The vote is expected to be the only ISIS-war related vote the Senate will address before the November elections, with senators very keen to delay any broad resolution on the war itself until after the election.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R – CA) offered the same assessment in his own comments earlier this week, saying that there would likely be some sort of debate on an Authorization for Use of Military Force some time after November.
The Obama Administration insists they don’t need any authorization for the war at all, and by the end of November the war is going to be extremely entrenched and difficult to roll back.
Many Congressmen likely to vote for the war fear a backlash from voters if they do, and so are waiting for the post-election period, in hopes that the vote won’t be a political issue.
Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY) was harshly critical of the plan to arm the Syrian rebels, criticizing the Senate’s “barnacled enables (which) have never met a war they didn’t like.”