Study of Syria policy included in aviation bill

Study of Syria policy included in aviation bill
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Congress is mandating an examination of the U.S. policy in Syria via a provision tucked into an aviation bill passed Wednesday.

The creation of the so-called Syria Study Group was included in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that easily passed the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill previously passed the House and now needs to be signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE.

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Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenCruz endorses GOP candidate for Senate in New Hampshire Meghan McCain: Lewandowski Senate run would be 'an absolutely ridiculous crap show' Super PAC targets Lewandowski with ad amid Senate speculation MORE (D-N.H.) has been pushing for a while for the creation of the Syria Study Group, modeled after the Iraq Study Group that Congress established in 2006.

“I’m particularly glad to see the bipartisan, bicameral support for my provision to establish a Syria Study Group that will bring outside experts together to finally develop a U.S. strategy in Syria, and pave a path forward to end the conflict,” Shaheen said in a statement Wednesday.

The group’s task is to “examine and make recommendations on the military and diplomatic strategy of the United States with respect to the conflict in Syria,” according to the bill.

The chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, and the Speaker and minority leader of the House will each appoint one member to the 12-member panel.

A final report is due 180 days after the bill is enacted.

The creation of the group comes as the Trump administration has been sending conflicting signals on the future of U.S. military operations in Syria.

National security advisor John Bolton said last week U.S. military presence in Syria is dependent on Iran.

“We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias,” he said.

Later that day, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Trump needs a national security adviser who 'speaks softly' US could deploy 150 troops to Syria: report MORE said U.S. troops are in Syria for “one purpose,” to defeat ISIS.

Still, Mattis denied he and Bolton were at odds, saying “I think we're on the same sheet of music.”