Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioTop Trump officials push border wall as government shutdown looms Rubio defends Trump: 'This whole flip-flop thing is a political thing' Rubio: Shutdown would have 'catastrophic impact' on global affairs MORE (R-Fla.) on Thursday voted in favor of a spending bill that includes an authorization to aid Syrian rebels, while Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulWe can put America first by preventing public health disasters Conservative activists want action from Trump McConnell: 'Big challenge' to pass ObamaCare repeal in Senate MORE (R-Ky.) and Ted CruzTed CruzWarren builds her brand with 2020 down the road Trump wall faces skepticism on border No Congress members along Mexico border support funding Trump's wall MORE (R-Texas) voted against it.
The plan to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels is the next stage in President Obama’s plan to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The Senate passed the continuing resolution (CR) 78-22, with 12 Republicans, 9 Democrats and 1 independent voting against it.
Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long called on the administration to arm the moderate opposition in Syria, a step that President Obama asked Congress to authorize in a stopgap spending bill last week.
"What happens in Syria is in our national interests," Rubio said earlier in the day. "If we do not confront and defeat ISIL now, we will have to do so later. ... If we fail to approve this, the nations of that region will say America is not truly engaged.
"I will support this resolution because I think it is in the best interest of our nation,” he added.
The House approved that authorization in a separate 273-156 vote before the lower chamber passed the CR on Wednesday.
Until now, the U.S. is believed to have been aiding the rebels covertly.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), another member of the Foreign Relations Committee, has walked a fine line between opposing intervention in foreign affairs and advocating the use of force.
On the plan to arm Syrian rebels, for instance, Paul said earlier this summer that ISIS has largely gained strength because the U.S. has armed the group’s allies in Syria.
Before the Thursday vote, Paul asked to separate the authorization to aid Syrian rebels from the CR, but Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiDems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day After 30 years celebrating women’s history, have we made enough progress? DC restaurant owners sue Trump hotel over unfair competition: report MORE (D-Md.) objected.
"The inescapable irony is that someday the arms we supply would be used against us, or Israel," Paul said on the floor Thursday. "It is also ludicrous to believe that we know where all of the money, arms and ammunition will end up, or who will end up benefiting from these shipments."
Cruz, a member of the Tea Party, has echoed Paul’s argument that weapons given to rebels could wind up in hands of terrorist groups in Syria.
All three have voiced support for using U.S. airstrikes against ISIS, on which Paul and Cruz have said Congress should hold a vote. Rubio has stated Obama already has the constitutional authority to order airstrikes.
Congressional leaders said this week lawmakers will likely debate whether to give President Obama that authority in the lame-duck session after the midterm elections.
The president has so far not made that request and administration officials have suggested Obama doesn’t need congressional authority.