Tea Party Republicans join anti-war Dems on bill restricting aid to Syria

Two Tea Party Republicans joined two anti-war Democrats Thursday on legislation to make it illegal for President Obama to arm the Syrian rebels.

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Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) partnered with Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on the bill that would bar the Obama administration from “supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Syria.” The bill has an exemption for “non-lethal humanitarian assistance.”

“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,” Udall said in a statement announcing the legislation. 

“Bottom line: We should not get involved in another civil war in the Middle East without a clear national security interest.”

The White House announced last week that Obama has concluded that President Bashar Assad's forces have used chemical weapons, and that the administration would respond with “military assistance” to vetted rebel groups. 

The bill is going nowhere in the Senate, where both parties largely agree that the United States needs to play a greater role in Syria despite widespread public concern. Murphy, Udall and Paul were the only “no” votes when legislation to arm the rebels cleared the Senate Foreign Relations panel by a 15-3 vote last month.

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