Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said Thursday that a vote to authorize arming Syrian rebels should be separate from a stopgap funding bill.
Sherman said that tucking the authorization into the funding bill to avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1 would deceive the public about lawmakers’ action on fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“We’re likely to end up with the sneakiest of maneuvers,” Sherman said on the House floor. “We’ll pass that package. The president will claim that since we funded and authorized the training of Syrian dissidents, we voted for his entire plan.”
The California Democrat said such a vote would further allow lawmakers to avoid having to commit to supporting military action in the Middle East.
“Members of Congress can say they had no choice but to vote for the Syrian provision but didn’t actually like it, never voted for it, they just voted to keep the national parks open,” Sherman said.
Sherman suggested that Congress instead hold three separate votes on whether to arm Syrian rebels, authorize military force limited to airstrikes and authorize ground operations.
“I think it’s time for Congress to stop harping about whether the president has a plan,” Sherman said. “Now Congress must exercise its constitutional role in defining what authorizations the president is going to be granted.”
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