Two Democrats and two Tea Party Republicans joined together today on bill to block military funds to Syria.
Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced legislation to ban the Defense Department, the CIA, and all other intelligence agencies from funding any military, paramilitary, or covert operations in Syria. Humanitarian aid would not be affected.
Udall, Murphy, and Paul are all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and cast the only dissenting votes in committee against authorizing President Obama to train and equip rebels.
“There are too many questions about how the President’s decision to arm the Syrian rebels will be handled, and unfortunately many of those answers are being kept secret,” Udall said. “We don’t know where the money is coming from, who the arms are going to, and whether the arms are going to individuals who have the capabilities to maintain a chain of custody of those weapons. This would not be acceptable in any standard sale of weapons to another government and should definitely not be acceptable for sales to rebel groups we know little about.”
“We need to place a check on the president’s unilateral decision to arm the rebels, while still preserving humanitarian aid and assistance to the Syrian people, and that is why I’m introducing this bill,” the New Mexico Dem added.
“The long-term objectives of increased involvement in Syria are vague, as are the necessary commitments and costs,” Lee said. “The United States cannot be involved in more nation building in the Middle East.”
Paul called Obama’s decision to arm the opposition “incredibly disturbing,” and Murphy said he’s “deeply skeptical” about intervention.
“I think the president’s in a very difficult position here. Clearly, there’s a slaughter happening in Syria today. And I can completely understand why he feels compelled to act, but the problem is really twofold. First, the momentum is on Bashar al-Assad’s side right now. And so, in order to turn the tide in Syria, you can’t just give a bunch of automatic weapons to the rebels. You have to give them some fairly serious weapons. And the reality is, is that, well, we’re going to try to thread the needle and get the weapons to the Free Syrian Army,” Murphy said on MSNBC today.
“And then the second problem is this. Even if we are successful in beating Assad, there is probably going to be a follow-on, very complicated civil war involving Al Qaida, involving Russian influences, Iranian influences. We’re talking about potentially a decade-long commitment there. And I just want the Senate to have a full debate about this right now.”