By Mike DeBonisSeptember 24, 2018 10:18AMCongress on Tuesday voted to cut aid to Syria’s embattled opposition, a key part of President Donald Trump’s plan to stem the flow of foreign fighters into his country.
In a measure that narrowly failed, the House voted 221-197, with five Republicans joining Democrats to support the measure.
The vote was expected after Congress had already failed to pass an additional measure last week that would have cut off the United States’ annual $1.1 billion aid to Syrian rebels, which has totaled $1 billion since Trump took office.
The Senate is expected to take up the measure as early as Thursday, and the House vote could be a major setback for Trump, who had urged Congress to take action in response to the deadly attacks on a Syrian military air base in August that killed scores of troops and civilians.
Trump, who has accused the Syrian government of orchestrating the attacks, said in a series of tweets that “no American should have to live in fear” and that the United Nations should investigate “who is behind the terrible attack in Syria.”
A White House official said the Trump administration believes the U.S. should not provide military aid to any foreign government that is “involved in a brutal, bloody war that has killed thousands of civilians, including women and children.”
The official said Trump also believes that the U,S.
will remain neutral in the Syrian conflict and that no U.N. Security Council resolution is required to impose economic sanctions.
The official said both sides “should work together to prevent a repeat of what occurred in Aleppo last August.”
The Trump administration has long been considering a policy of providing lethal aid to the Syrian opposition, though the White House has been mum on whether it would support a unilateral cut to aid to opposition groups, and Congress has not taken a final position on the matter.
A number of House Republicans had sought to introduce legislation that would allow the White.
Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Cornyn (R,TX), Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz (R.TX) and John Thune (R.,SD) all voted in favor of the measure, which is expected later Tuesday.
The House is expected on Wednesday to begin debate on the measure that would cut off U..
S.-led efforts to train and equip Syrian rebels.
The measure was initially introduced in August, but the U’s top foreign policy official told reporters at the time that the administration was concerned the proposal would give Russia and Iran a pretext to attack the Syrian army and airfield.
“We don’t think we should be supplying arms to a foreign government,” National Security Council Director Michael Flynn told reporters during a briefing on Wednesday.
“And we certainly don’t want to be providing weapons to a country that we think is a sponsor of terrorism.
So that was the basis of our thinking and what we were thinking about.
And that’s the reason we came to this agreement.”
The legislation would cut aid for Syrian rebels to the tune of $1,853 million for fiscal year 2019, with $4.5 billion going to the National Democratic Institute, $250 million for the National Endowment for Democracy, and $100 million for an additional program that provides support for the Syrian National Coalition.
It also provides for the provision of humanitarian aid to moderate rebels and the establishment of a U.NS.
O.M.O.-style task force, which the White HOUSE has said would provide aid to vetted opposition fighters and other “moderate” Syrian opposition groups.
The White House and congressional leaders have said the United State should provide the Syrian rebels with the equipment they need to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but there have been no formal talks between the Trump and Congress about providing equipment or assistance to Syrian opposition forces.