WASHINGTON, D.C.–Giving the president the authority and the money to train Syrian forces to combat ISIS in the Middle East was the crux of a bill that passed the U.S. Senate Thursday 73-22. The bill also provides money for Ebola research and keeps the government from shutting down through December. Both of your Mississippi senators voted in favor of the bill.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R) told Hardball’s Chris Matthews after the vote that the measure will give Pres. Obama time to make his case for a no boots on the ground by American forces strategy.
“The American people want to give this commander-in-chief the opportunity to make his case and show us over the next three months that he has a plan that can win, and that if he;s successful, we can hold those gains,” said Wicker.
The bill expires after three months, but the president can come back to Congress after the elections and make a case to extend the operations.
AUDIO, Courtesy MSNBC
“Over the course of the past few weeks, I have attended classified briefings and met with our military leaders regarding the threat that ISIS poses to the interests of the United States and our allies. I am convinced, more than ever, that this barbaric group needs to be destroyed,” said Wicker in a statement.
“We cannot defeat ISIS unless we go after their command-and-control centers in Syria. I support the Administration’s plan to train, equip, and assist properly vetted Syrian forces in their fight against the terrorist group. This effort should be seen as a first step in building international support and cooperation.
“Like many Americans I am still concerned about the lack of an overall substantive strategy by this Administration. There are many questions that have not been answered. Fortunately, Congress will have another opportunity in December to determine if the Administration’s efforts are achieving results.”
Sen. Thad Cochran (R) was also concerned with parts of the bill that would keep the government operating for now.
“I’m disappointed that not a single FY2015 appropriations bill will have been enacted by the start of the new fiscal year. This situation necessitates a continuing resolution,” said Cochran. “It is my hope that when the Senate reconvene this fall that Majority Leader will give us a chance to call up, debate and pass these bills.”
As far as the fight against ISIS goes, Cochran said he is skeptical of the plan, but is willing to give it a shot.
“I have reservations about the President’s plan, but there are no easy answers to the problems posed by the Islamic terrorist threat to our national interests and the overall stability of the Middle East. This initial authorization, which is limited in duration and includes multiple opportunities for congressional oversight, is a good step to take at this point. The debate will be rejoined later this year,” said Cochran, vice chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
Other notable provisions in the almost two and half month CR include:
- Additional funding to support Department of Veterans Affairs treatment of veterans, disabilities claims processing and oversight;
- Funding for State Department programs to regional aggression toward the Ukraine and other nations that were once part of the Soviet Union; and,
- Funding to support the Centers for Disease Control response to the Ebola virus crisis in Africa, as well as resources to accelerate U.S. Department of Health and Human Services research on Ebola therapies.