Republicans Rebuff Obama on Syrian Rebels
WASHINGTON — House Republicans have rebuffed President Obama’s request for explicit approval to train and equip Syrian rebels battling forces seeking creation of an Islamic State and to spend up to $2 billion stabilizing the situation in Ukraine, Iraq and other hotspots, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Despite the setback, administration officials worked to win the support of reluctant lawmakers in the hours before Obama was delivering a nationally television speech to the nation laying out his strategy for combating militants with Islamic State group.
Officials said Obama made two specific requests of lawmakers as they drafted a sweeping spending bill to keep the government open past the end of the Sept. 30 budget year. Neither was included in the bill that the House is scheduled to vote on Thursday, but the situation remained fluid.
The White House request asks for “authority to train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian armed opposition to help defend the Syrian people from attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Syrian regime” as well as stabilize areas in Syria under rebel control.