Levin backs aid for Syrian rebels in spending bill

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (D-Mich.) on Wednesday said money to train and equip Syrian rebels should be included in any short-term bill Congress passes to keep the government open.

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The administration is imploring Congress to incorporate Title 10 authority, the part of the U.S. code that governs military powers, into the continuing resolution (CR) that must be passed by Sept. 30 to avoid a government shutdown.

The White House says the authorization could allow the U.S. to accelerate aid to the Syrian opposition in its fights with both the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and government forces.

The Armed Services panel originally gave the White House the authority to train moderate Syrian forces in its version of the 2015 defense authorization bill, but that measure is stuck in limbo.

Senate appropriators included $500 million for the effort in their 2015 defense spending bill.

Levin said the continuing resolution was a “more logical place” to include the arms and training funds.

“I think that is the most likely next step is to put Title 10 authority in the CR because we can’t obviously get to our defense authorization bill before the next couple weeks but we could, and we have to, get to a CR,” he told reporters.

Levin shrugged at the suggestion that House lawmakers failing to include the funds in their version of the spending legislation could complicate getting a bill passed.

“Maybe it will be added on the floor,” he said.

Levin suggested that approving the $500 million could be a way Congress shows its support — rather than a vote of the authorization for the use of military force — for President Obama after his Wednesday night address to the nation where he will lay out his strategy for combating ISIS.

“Funding Title 10 probably doesn’t qualify as supporting some of the things the president will be saying tonight because it’s training and equipping somebody else,” but it would demonstrate lawmakers share a “common cause,” he said.

Levin ripped Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBudowsky: Pelosi can break shutdown stalemate GOP seeks to change narrative in shutdown fight On The Money: Shutdown Day 32 | Senate to vote on dueling funding measures | GOP looks to change narrative | Dems press Trump on recalled workers | Kudlow predicts economy will 'snap back' after shutdown MORE (R-Ky.) for a speech he gave Wednesday morning skewering the president’s foreign policy, calling it “highly partisan” and an “unnecessary bit of rhetoric.”

“I hope, somehow or another, we can find a bipartisan approach to support the president, assuming, which I believe will be the truth, that he has a strong message tonight,” he said.