By Jeremy Herb
Tea Party and libertarian-leaning members have protested the amendment restrictions, and they are threatening to join with Democrats to defeat the rule on the House floor.
Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said there was a difficult balance to strike between the desires of lawmakers and national security issues. Defense Appropriations Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.) said that some of the amendments couldn’t be properly considered in an open session because they discussed classified material.
“If I have to respond to some of the amendments I have seen in an open session, it’s not a fair fight,” Young said.
Democrats, however, criticized a structured rule, which is a departure from the typical open amendment process that accompanies spending bills.
Rules Committee member Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) questioned whether Republican leaders were “afraid of the will of the House or the majority of the House?”
The bill could be taken up on the House floor as early as Tuesday, and the Rules Committee is expected to vote on a rule later into the night Monday.
Dempsey outlines costs for Syria military action: As the Rules Committee debated possible U.S. military action in Syria, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey outlined the possible costs of those steps.
In a letter to Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Dempsey detailed five possible options. Four of them could carry a price tag of $1 billion per month, including a no-fly zone, buffer zone and trying to control chemical weapons.
Dempsey’s letter came after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) threatened to place a hold on Dempey’s confirmation for a second term as chairman.
McCain and Dempsey got into a heated dispute over whether Dempsey was required to provide his personal opinion on military action in Syria. Dempsey said it would be inappropriate for him to do so because the issue is currently being deliberated within the administration.
Rogers: Panel’s objections to arming rebels met: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Monday that his committee’s objections to the Obama administration’s plans to arm the Syrian opposition had been resolved.
“The House Intelligence Committee has very strong concerns about the strength of the administration's plans in Syria and its chances for success,” Rogers said in a statement. “After much discussion and review, we got a consensus that we could move forward with what the administration's plans and intentions are in Syria consistent with committee reservations.”
The panel’s decision, first reported by Reuters, will help pave the way for the Obama administration to provide some arms to vetted rebel groups.
The military aid had been delayed by both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, which voted to restrict the aid because of fears that the weapons would wind up in the hands of extremist groups.
Hundreds escape Iraqi prison: Hundreds of prisoners — including senior members of al Qaeda — escaped from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison on Monday in a violent breakout.
The convicts escaped during a military assault by allies to free them, according to multiple reports.
Cars carrying explosives were driven to the front gates of the prison on Sunday night and gunmen shot at guards with rocket propelled grenades and mortar explosives. The fighting continued through Monday morning.
Officials estimated as many as 500 inmates escaped, even as authorities were able to recapture some of the convicts. The majority of inmates that escapes were al Qaeda members on death row, according to the British Sky News service.
One prison official told Reuters the break-out was an "obvious" attack by terrorists carried out by al-Qaeda.
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