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5 Syria Bills That Were Sitting in Congress Before Assad’s Chemical Weapons Attack

Red line came a lot earlier for lawmakers who have been offering proposals through the 112th and 113th sessions.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

September 5, 2013 - 7:17 pm
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WASHINGTON — Long before President Obama decided that his red line with Syria had been crossed and came asking for authorization to strike at Bashar al-Assad, members of Congress had been putting forth legislative proposals in an effort to stop the bloodshed and mitigate its humanitarian crisis.

Bills began soon after Syrian protesters took to the streets in March 2011, inspired by the toppling of other regimes in the Arab Spring. Yet the dictator responded to the demonstrations with lethal force, which evolved into armed rebellion as the months dragged on and the death toll grew higher.

Some Syria legislation that died in the 112th Congress was resurrected this year. Still, bills that carry bipartisan support and offer a variety of options for dealing with the Syrian crisis had been pushed to the back burner before Assad’s chemical weapons attack and subsequent request by Obama for a use-of-force authorization.

H.R.893: Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Accountability Act of 2013

Introduced at the end of February by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) with 15 cosponsors, including Democrat Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Tea Party favorite Steve Stockman (R-Texas), the bill would impose sanctions for at least two years on any person or entity transferring goods, services, or technology for the chemical, biological, or advanced conventional weapons program of Iran, North Korea, and Syria, and prohibits assistance to any foreign government that has provided aid to these regimes or has failed to prevent its citizens or entities from doing so.

“As a nation, we should come to the conclusion that when it comes to these rogue regimes, diplomacy and engagement have not and will not work. Iran has taken steps to continue its enrichment process, North Korea continues its nuclear and ballistic testing, and Syria’s arsenal may land in the wrong hands,” Ros-Lehtinen said at the time. “This bill will really step up the pressure on these regimes and hit them where it hurts: in the pockets.”

The legislation hasn’t made it out of committee. Its sanctions are similar to Ros-Lehtinen’s Syria Freedom Support Act in the 112th Congress, introduced three months after the uprising began in 2011 and passed out of committee the following year.

Ros-Lehtinen is calling on the administration to more clearly outline its operation and objectives, yet is likely to vote for strike authorization.

H.R.1327 : Free Syria Act of 2013

Introduced in March by House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) with seven co-sponsors, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), this bill says “the United States should coordinate its assistance efforts with the Syrian Opposition Coalition’s Assistance Coordination Unit” while stepping up humanitarian aid and requiring assistance to be marked as being “From the American People” with a representation of the U.S. flag. It calls for military assistance to vetted Syrian forces and a broadcasting service for the Syrian opposition, and authorizes the president to “establish a program to facilitate the destruction of Syrian chemical and biological weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, and associated parts and equipment,” according to the Congressional Research Service summary.

“President Assad’s days are numbered as the situation in Syria goes from bad to worse. No longer can we watch as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster unfolds before our very eyes,” Engel said then. “We are long past due to arm friendly rebels and turn the tide to allow for a more hopeful Syrian future. Ridding Syria of Assad will provide a strategic setback to Iran, which uses Syria as a pass-through to prop up their terrorist proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

The legislation hasn’t made it out of committee. Engel and Rogers are supporting Obama’s current call for strikes against Assad.

H.RES.229: Calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and others to be tried before the International Criminal Court for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity

Introduced by Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) in May, this resolution finds that “under the command of President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian Government forces and shabiha forces have been accused of gross human rights violations including heavy shelling of civilian areas, widespread pillaging and the burning of homes, denial of basic human needs such as food, water, and medical care, mass torture and arrests, unlawful detention, and brutal execution-style killings.” It “calls on the United Nations Security Council, based on evidence that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been perpetrated in Syria, to refer the situation of Syria to the International Criminal Court.”

Israel has five co-sponsors on the resolution mired in committee, including Republicans Tom Cole (Okla.) and Aaron Schock (Ill.). He attempted the same resolution in the 112th Congress.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the innocent men, women and children who have been and are being brutally murdered,” Israel said when introducing the bill. “Rep. Cole and I are calling on the U.N. Security Council to take action by demanding that President Assad is tried before the International Criminal Court for his horrific crimes against humanity. It is time to take action so this tragedy does not continue on our watch.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Bridget, excellent job of research and it proves that when you have a poor leader you miss opportunities.

Here is a little add-on about the "man". Has anyone ever heard Obama speak about the greatness of America? Has he ever given a speech that was filled with the accomplishments and heartfelt thanks for the strong and intelligent people that we as Americans are? Has he ever once opened his heart and embraced what America is about? Has he ever been proud that while the rest of world were riding donkeys and peddling bicycles America was building "Muscle Cars" and "Sweet" motorcycles? Has he ever once embraced the independence and fortitude of the generations of successful entrepreneurs that discovered cures for illness, donated untold millions to help the poor and the needy? Has he in fact ever said anything about America and "We the People" in a positive light?

It appears that Obama is a very angry man, filled with disdain for the American way of life. The question is why? He was not a ghetto baby, fact is he grew up in an environment that he now refers to as "rich and privileged". His actions are those of a spoiled brat that really never grew up. His time seems to be dedicated to causing dissension, unrest and anxiety to the citizens of this great country. It seems as if his ultimate goal is to turn America into the "First Dysfunctional Family", intentionally creating chaos to keep the citizens off-balance, suspicious and distrusting.

And now we have Syria - clearly in the midst of numerous impeachable offenses, Obama has decided that NOW is the time to react. He wants to "compassionately" bomb Syria. These bombs won't disrupt the current conflict, won't change the "Regime" and won't get rid of the WMD's. These have to be the "smartest" bombs America has ever dropped.

Obama with his arrogant, self-serving, delusional, grandiose methodology has, by his own actions, become the single biggest threat to America, Americans and our way of life.

It is time for the people of America to stand up and take responsibility for electing this incompetent, dictatorial, self-aggrandizing moron and place him in a position where he can do no more harm than hitting a spectator with a golfball. Impeachment is out of the question, the Race Card will be played and historians will not allow the first (semi) black president to go out on a rail... But, we can, through our elected representatives, legally and legitimately take his power away and basically reduce him to nothing more than the the lame duck that he is.

We are America, the best people, the greatest country...strongest & wealthiest country in the world - we feed, clothe and through our compassion donate more money each year than some countries GDP! We must not let Obama and his bad attitude bring us down!






51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (6)
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The only reason why Obama wants to bomb Syria now, is that there is no longer any viable western-oriented democratic secular opposition in Syria, and since his MB pals in Egypt are now rotting in jail, this has given Obama a sense of added urgency to install the MB in another Arab country. That is his agenda. But he is getting cold feet because if Assad is going down, he'll almost certainly hit Israel in a big way, and that may lead to all kinds of consequences Obama doesn't want (e.g., being forced to treat Israel as an "ally" - he really hates to do this - and maybe even an Israeli hit on Iran, which he REALLY does not want).

So, since he is really not sure what to do, he is starting off with this "limited strike" - idiocy if ever there was - and on top of that, passing the buck to Congress in a desperate attempt to shirk responsibility for his sorry excuse for policy.

This whole administration is like a bunch of snotty twenty-something grad students sitting around the student lounge, spinning up all manner of deranged policy ideas, saying to each other, "Wouldn't it be cool if we did THIS??"

Bush the Younger sure looks good to me now...looks better and better every month, despite his many flaws...
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Correction, Assads ALLEGED attack. I still have yet to see proof he did it. To the contrary, I'm led to believe the opposition did this to draw us into the fight. If that is the case, I'm even more furious at the deaths of the children because that would mean their murders were used as a cause to control our behavior.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bridget, excellent job of research and it proves that when you have a poor leader you miss opportunities.

Here is a little add-on about the "man". Has anyone ever heard Obama speak about the greatness of America? Has he ever given a speech that was filled with the accomplishments and heartfelt thanks for the strong and intelligent people that we as Americans are? Has he ever once opened his heart and embraced what America is about? Has he ever been proud that while the rest of world were riding donkeys and peddling bicycles America was building "Muscle Cars" and "Sweet" motorcycles? Has he ever once embraced the independence and fortitude of the generations of successful entrepreneurs that discovered cures for illness, donated untold millions to help the poor and the needy? Has he in fact ever said anything about America and "We the People" in a positive light?

It appears that Obama is a very angry man, filled with disdain for the American way of life. The question is why? He was not a ghetto baby, fact is he grew up in an environment that he now refers to as "rich and privileged". His actions are those of a spoiled brat that really never grew up. His time seems to be dedicated to causing dissension, unrest and anxiety to the citizens of this great country. It seems as if his ultimate goal is to turn America into the "First Dysfunctional Family", intentionally creating chaos to keep the citizens off-balance, suspicious and distrusting.

And now we have Syria - clearly in the midst of numerous impeachable offenses, Obama has decided that NOW is the time to react. He wants to "compassionately" bomb Syria. These bombs won't disrupt the current conflict, won't change the "Regime" and won't get rid of the WMD's. These have to be the "smartest" bombs America has ever dropped.

Obama with his arrogant, self-serving, delusional, grandiose methodology has, by his own actions, become the single biggest threat to America, Americans and our way of life.

It is time for the people of America to stand up and take responsibility for electing this incompetent, dictatorial, self-aggrandizing moron and place him in a position where he can do no more harm than hitting a spectator with a golfball. Impeachment is out of the question, the Race Card will be played and historians will not allow the first (semi) black president to go out on a rail... But, we can, through our elected representatives, legally and legitimately take his power away and basically reduce him to nothing more than the the lame duck that he is.

We are America, the best people, the greatest country...strongest & wealthiest country in the world - we feed, clothe and through our compassion donate more money each year than some countries GDP! We must not let Obama and his bad attitude bring us down!






51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree with most of what you say, with a couple of exceptions.

First, in '12, we did not really elect this moron. That election was massively rigged. I could make many arguments for this, but for now, in this space will only limit myself to a couple of brief points:

How is it, that given the obvious stakes involved, and the strong voter engagement evidenced by record TV audiences for at least the first two presidential debates...that voter turnout in '12 was not only less than '08, but even less than '04?? Even though there were 18 million MORE registered voters in '12 than in '08???

Despite the many advantages Romney enjoyed against Obama when compared with McCain in '08 - e.g., more money, Obama's horrible record to run against, the backing of the Tea Party which did not even exist in '08, among others - how is it that Romney got two and a half million votes LESS than McCain got in '08?? And Obama "won" with about the same vote tally as McCain got in '08??

I'm sorry, but this just does not compute. It may take three years or it may take twenty years, but eventually, mark my words, it is going to come out that the 2012 election was stolen big time. Obama is not a legitimate president. He is a fraud and a usurper.

Second, speaking of which, I would not rule out impeachment. I wouldn't count on it, either, but I certainly would not rule it out. If the GOP takes the Senate - and that is anybody's guess right now - I can easily see impeachment. Never mind that he's the first [half] black president. Yes, that is an obstacle, but past a certain point, we have to return to being a nation of laws. And this [fraudulently elected] president should not be above the law any more than any other. If the fact of his race is the main obstacle to his being impeached, then we still are a racist country, and the fact of his election means nothing in terms of any real progress we have made on this issue as a nation.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bravo!
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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