Funding for Syrian rebels likely, but vote on military action against ISIS "might be problematic," Yarmuth says

09/15/2014 09:02 AM

Congress is on the clock as President Barack Obama seeks support “to degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth says Obama’s requested aid to train Syrian moderates will likely materialize.

Congressional action granting further military force in the Middle East, though, could prove more difficult, he said.

Obama’s request, announced during a nationally televised address Wednesday, threw a wrench in plans by the U.S. House to vote on a short-term spending bill Thursday that would fund the federal government until Dec. 11 because Obama wants Congress to include funding to arm and trail Syrian rebels in the stop-gap plan. Last year’s resolution to the 16-day government shutdown expires Sept. 30, and Congress is scheduled to recess this Friday.

Yarmuth, D-Louisville, said Saturday he expects Congress to appropriate funds for Obama’s request to train Syrian opposition forces.

“The issue that I think may be sticky is if there is a vote over a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force, AUMF,” he said. “That might be problematic.”

Yarmuth is among those who disagree with Obama’s rationale that expanded airstrikes against Islamic State militants, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL, in Iraq and Syria are covered by the 2001 AUMF against Al Qaeda and the 2002 AUMF in Iraq .

“I have a problem with the administration’s argument that they are authorized because of the 2001 Afghanistan resolution, but I think overall, I think right now he’ll get the money,” Yarmuth said.

The president, in his address Wednesday, said while he has the authority for broader action in the Middle East, he will “welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”

Polling on the issue indicates Americans support military action against ISIS, with 61 percent of respondents in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll saying the U.S. should take action against the extremist group.

While he doesn’t endorse Obama’s plans for additional airstrikes in Iraq and Syria with or without congressional approval, Yarmuth says Congress will fund the president’s request to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels “unless there’s a bipartisan rift that develops.”

“Right now I don’t see it,” Yarmuth said Saturday. “Right now my sense over the last few days in Washington was that there was pretty much bipartisan support for supporting the president.”


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