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House Passes Bill That Authorizes Arming Syrian Rebels

In a vote that eschewed traditional Washington divisions in favor of novel ones, the House approved a bill that authorized the training and arming of Syrian rebels in their fight against the so-called Islamic State.

The final tally was 273 to 156. But many members of both parties broke ranks with their leaders — Reps. John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi — who strongly backed the measure.

According to a count by NBC News' Frank Thorp, 114 Democrats voted in favor of the measure; 85 voted no. Republicans broke down similarly, voting 159 to 71.

The New York Times adds:

" 'The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission,' President Obama said Wednesday in addressing troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. 'I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.'

"But the theater around the debate and the vote belied that portrayal. The president, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and top White House officials personally lobbied for the measure's passage, calling more than 70 Democrats and Republicans on national security committees and in leadership posts to appeal for their support. Mr. Obama and his allies pleaded with lawmakers not to cut his legs out from under him as he tries to assemble an international coalition to confront the terrorist group.

" 'Obama is our commander in chief,' said Representative C. A. (Dutch) Ruppersberger of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. 'You don't weaken the commander in chief when we're in a serious crisis.' "

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is an international correspondent for NPR. He was named NPR's Mexico City correspondent in 2022. Before that, he was based in Cape Town, South Africa.
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