Syria, Egypt funding limited in House votes

The House voted Wednesday afternoon to restrict the use of funds in a 2014 defense spending bill on Syria and Egypt.

Approval of the two amendments came after House Republicans initially resisted the idea of considering any language on Syria and Egypt. GOP leaders feared amendments on these issues could make the spending bill controversial, and thus delay its enactment.

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But while Republicans finally allowed votes on Syria and Egypt, it only allowed relatively non-controversial amendments that passed easily.

On Syria, the House approved language from Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) that would prohibit the use of funds for military action in Syria when that action would be inconsistent with the War Powers Resolution. That resolution is seen as a basis for seeking congressional permission for going to war.

"What we are saying is, Mr. President, if you want to go to war, come to us," Radel said.

But this language was seen by some as a mere restatement of current law, and thus it led to no opposition on the floor and a quick vote-vote approval.

Members had offered tougher language on Syria, to ensure the U.S. moves cautiously before taking a side in Syria's civil war. However, none of these proposals were made in order by House Republicans.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) noted this by saying he welcomed Radel's language, but that he would have preferred a vote on blocking efforts to arm rebels in Syria.

That was one of several amendments proposed on Syria that did not get a vote. Others included Republican proposals to prevent spending to fund military or paramilitary operations in Syria, and block funding to send military equipment and support to rebel groups.

A bipartisan proposal would have prevented the government from spending any money to deploy U.S. forces in Syria except to reduce a member of the Armed Forces. And a Democratic proposal would have prohibiting spending on anything in Iran and Syria unless specifically appropriated for that purpose.

Members also accepted language from Rep. Tom Massie (R-Ky.) that would prohibit funding for military or paramilitary operations in Egypt. Many members fear military action is a possibility in Egypt as the U.S. assesses what appears to be a military takeover against Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi.

This language drew some wary comments, including some from Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who said the language could put in jeopardy the ability of the U.S. to work together to help keep the peace in Israel.

But even Granger said she would not oppose it, and Massie's language was also approved in a voice vote.

These quick votes came near the end of House consideration of the spending bill, H.R. 2397. Members still had to debate two amendments aimed at reining in the National Security Agency's spying on American citizens.

Other amendments disposed of by early Wednesday evening were from:

— Lee Terry (R-Neb.), increasing defense-wide operations to deal with the sequester by $1 billion, and reducing Afghanistan Security Forces funding by $2.6 billion. Accepted in voice vote.

— Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), protecting civilian Defense Department security clearances due to furloughs caused by the sequester. Passed 277-142.

— Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), preventing the further detention of Guantanamo Bay detainees that have already been cleared for release. Failed 176-242.

— Nadler, preventing further expansion of facilities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Failed 187-237.

— Pedro Pierluisi (D-P.R.), allowing the Defense Department to remove unexploded ordinance in Puerto Rico. Withdrawn.

— Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), prohibiting funds from being used to implement any agreement with the Russian Federation on missile defense. Accepted in voice vote.

— Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), prohibiting the use of force under the Authorization for Use of Military Force after U.S. combat operations end in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Failed 185-236.

— Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), providing funding to identify people separated from the military after reporting sexual assault and to correct their record when appropriate. Accepted in voice vote.

— Speier, providing $10 million in funds to increase training for investigators to property investigate sexual assault in the military. Accepted in voice vote.

— This story was updated at 5:49 p.m. to include the last roll call votes.