WASHINGTON — Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken voted for a bill Thursday to train and arm Syrian rebels fighting against the Islamic State (IS) group and keep the government open through mid-December.
The bill, passed Wednesday by the House, would fund rebel factions in Syria in their fight against IS, a key component of President Obama’s plan to destroy the organization. It passed the Senate 78 to 22, and is on its way to Obama to become law.
Appearing on MSNBC on Thursday, Klobuchar said it’s important to target IS because of its growing international influence, including an apparent plot in Australia.
“When we heard today in Australia, that ISIL was trying to conduct some kind of terrorist activity in Australia, being from the home state of Minnesota where we’ve had a number of young men recruited, one killed, fighting on the side of ISIL, we know that this isn’t just about one place in a far away land,” Klobuchar said. She supported the provision training the Syrian rebels because it doesn’t involve using American ground troops, she said.
Franken called the plan the “best available option” and he said Congress should have a role in declaring further military actions against IS.
“There needs to be a full debate in Congress on an authorization to use military force,” he said. “Let me be clear, what I don’t want is for this to be a slippery slope that leads to another protracted ground war in the region.”
Short-term budget measure
Besides Syria, the bill also funds the government through mid-December, keeping the government’s lights on after the budget year ends on Sept. 30. This time last year, we were lurching toward a government shutdown due to an impasse over funding for the president’s health care law. But with an election less than 50 days away, lawmakers didn’t want to cause any controversy over a spending bill right now, so they passed a short-term measure and pushed a larger budget battle into this winter’s lame-duck session.
As such, Thursday was effectively the last legislative day until the election. The House moved quickly on a couple of last-minute messaging bills, the Senate passed the budget, and lawmakers are leaving town, officially entering campaign mode.
Devin Henry can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry