Vulnerable Begich will oppose arming Syrian rebels

Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska Senate race sees cash surge in final stretch Alaska group backing independent candidate appears linked to Democrats Sullivan wins Alaska Senate GOP primary MORE (D-Alaska) said he would vote against a stopgap funding measure that would authorize President Obama to equip moderate Syrian rebels, dismissing warnings that voting against the stopgap measure could lead to a government shutdown as idle threats.

Defecting from other Senate Democrats, Begich said the authority to train rebels should have been debated separately from the continuing resolution (CR).


“This issue with what’s going on in Syria should be a separate issue, should be debated separately,’” he said. “I do not support the arming of rebels in Syria.

“This kind of artificial threat that [the government] might be shut down if we don’t vote in a certain way in regards to the government is just not factual,” Begich continued. “The CR is going to pass.”

Begich, who is one of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents, emphasized that he and President Obama, who is highly unpopular in Alaska and other Republican-leaning states, are at odds on the issue. 

“I disagree with my president,” Begich said. “There are times when we disagree on quite a few issues.”


“I would support the CR because I believe that the ISIS threat to America and our citizens is real, and must be addressed. Moving forward, we need a serious strategy to ultimately destroy ISIS that encompasses all instruments of American power -- diplomatic, finance, military, and above all economic," Sullivan said.

"The Obama Administration has yet to clearly lay out such a strategy and has consistently shown weakness overseas. Mark Begich has been enabling this weak approach by only focusing on what we shouldn't do and taking options off the table – this encourages our enemies," the GOP hopeful continued. "Saying no to everything is not foreign policy. Inaction and signaling to our adversaries what we won’t do has its own consequences.” 

Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiFormer Md. senator Paul Sarbanes dies at 87 Foreign policy congressional committees need to call more women experts Lobbying World MORE (Md.), the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a fellow Democrat, also bristled at the notion that a possible shutdown is not a real threat.  

“I just want to make clear that the threat of a shutdown is not an idle threat,” she said.

Mikulski poked Begich for voting against the stopgap bill despite sitting on the Appropriations panel.

“The gentleman is entitled to his views and certainly his vote on what he thinks is in the best interests of the nation, but we’ve got to pass this CR or it will — it will not be an artificial threat,” she said. 

This post was updated at 4:54 p.m.