Pelosi: Training for Syrian rebels is must-do before elections

Pelosi: Training for Syrian rebels is must-do before elections
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that Congress should pass President Obama's request for training Syrian rebels "as soon as possible."

The authorization provision does not necessarily have to be a part of the continuing resolution (CR), Pelosi emphasized, but it makes sense to attach it because it's one of the few must-pass items Congress is considering this month.

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"We want it to be on whatever engine is leaving the station, and that's one that is leaving the station," Pelosi said, as she headed into a briefing with White House officials on the Syria training issue. "That's for sure a must-pass bill in a [short window] of time, and I would hope that it would be on there.

Pelosi emphasized that the issue is not one of funding.

"It's not about money," she said, "it's about authorization."

Pelosi defended Obama's current approach to combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying he has the authority "to do what he is doing now." But she also endorsed the notion of Congress granting the president explicit authority to go after the militants, particularly if he expands the U.S. operations.

"Congress can, at any time, put forth legislation to support the fight against ISIS. But the president has the authority he needs to do what he is doing now," she said. "Should a threshold be crossed, that's a subjective judgment, and we'll see [what Obama plans to do]. It's better if we could have a joint effort of Congress and the executive branch."

Pelosi declined to say if Democrats will support the GOP CR, saying it remains unclear what the final package will look like. But she made a point to condemn the Republicans' short-term extension of the Export-Import Bank, arguing that the Democrats' favored five-year approach would better help the limping economy.

"It is really important to the economy of our country, to our competitiveness globally, that we have a long-term extension," she said. "The meager kicking the can, not even down the road, but to the side ... is not a responsible way to go. And I would hope that they would reconsider that." 

Wednesday's administration briefing was led by Lisa Monaco, a top adviser to Obama on issues of homeland security.