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Beltway Confidential

Bipartisan group of Senators call for debate over arming Syrian rebels

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A rare bipartisan group of senators, including Rand Paul, R-K.Y., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Chris Murphy, D-Conn. And Tom Udall, D-N.M., have called on Congress to have an open and honest debate over whether or not to arm Syrian rebels.

Speaking Friday with MSNBC's Chris Jansing about President Obama's decision last week to give weapons to Syrian rebels, Murphy said, "Let's just have a full debate about this in the United States Senate. I mean, whether or not this is an act of war or not, the president shouldn't just do this without the American public getting to have a full debate."

The group has introduced a bill that would ban direct or indirect aid for military and paramilitary operations in Syria, but would not prevent further humanitarian aid. Just as with Libya, the senators believe that Congress needs to authorize any involvement in Syria, and each have called for debate on the subject along with Murphy.

Paul: "The American people deserve real deliberation by their elected officials before we send arms to a region rife with extremists who seek to threaten the U.S. and her allies."

Lee: "Any military involvement in Syria, including the arming of Syrian rebels, needs to be authorized through Congress, where concerns can be publicly debated and the American people can have a say."

Udall: "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 biggest fear among the senators is it's not clear who the rebels are and what they will do if they gain power. As was seen in Egypt, those who gained power were members of the terrorist group Muslim Brotherhood. In Syria, it is known, according to Murphy, that part of the opposition group that would receive the weapons are members of al Qaeda, hardly the people the U.S. should be arming.

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Ashe Schow

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner