House lawmakers ask for stand-alone vote on Syria

House lawmakers are pushing Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' MORE (R-Ohio) to allow a stand-alone vote in the lame-duck session on plans to train and arm Syrian rebel groups fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The 2015 defense policy bill being voted on Thursday includes a provision that would extend the program slated to expire on Dec. 11 for two years.

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But in a letter to BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' MORE on Thursday, Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) cited the plan’s “potential consequences” and said it deserves its own debate and vote.

"A matter of that importance should not be tucked into a huge NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] bill and shielded from a separate vote," they wrote in the letter, which was signed by nine other lawmakers.

"Given the importance of this decision to use American troops to train and equip so-called moderate Syrian rebels in places like Saudi Arabia, Congress has a duty to debate and vote separately on this question,” they added. “We must not abdicate our responsibility to the American people and the men and women who serve in our military."

They noted questions about the plan’s cost, effectiveness and impact on service members.

The program would train as many as 5,000 moderate Syrian fighters at locations in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to fight ISIS. Congress initially granted short-term authority in September.

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTrump's 'soldier of fortune' foreign policy Beto needs to revive talk about his 'war tax' proposal Gabbard: 'Debate or no debate we are driving forward' MORE (D-Hawaii), who signed the letter, called it "absolutely unacceptable to include an open-ended policy of arming and training so-called 'moderate' Syrian rebels in the NDAA without any serious public debate or a stand-alone vote." 

"By continuing to funnel weapons to rebels in Syria, whose vetting and loyalties are questionable and untested, we face the likely outcome of our weapons falling into the hands of our enemies yet again, to be used against Americans and innocent civilians," said Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran who voted against the plan in September. 

The House is set to vote on the defense bill Thursday afternoon without allowing amendments.

The letter was also signed by Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Jeff FortenberryJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FortenberryHouse Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death House Appropriations passes defense bill that would limit funds for border wall, pull US support from Yemen war Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill MORE (R-Neb.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiHouse Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment Trump bashes Mueller for 'ineptitude,' slams 'sick' Democrats backing impeachment Pelosi denies she's 'trying to run out the clock' on impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.).