President Obama personally called the House Appropriations Committee Chairman at 5:00pm Tuesday to request congressional authorization to arm Syrian rebels, prompting a scramble on Capitol Hill to digest the proposed policy change and decide how to bring it up for consideration.
Obama wanted the language included in a stop-gap “continuing resolution” (CR) spending bill that Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), the appropriations panel chairman, was minutes away from introducing when the president called, Rogers told reporters.
But given the breadth of the policy change involved, Rogers would prefer the proposal come up as its own stand-alone bill, he said, and the CR is still scheduled to come to the House floor Thursday.
“They’ve known about this problem for over a year. They’ve known that we were getting ready to do a CR. And just as I was about to drop it in the hopper, the president calls and asks if we would consider this,” Rogers said as he emerged from an administration briefing on the ISIS threat.
“In good faith, we’re trying to get briefed up on what the request is. It’s a complicated, big-time change in policy. I hate to see us attach to a continuing resolution at the very last minute,” Rogers said.
GOP leadership is still considering the request, which Obama also broached in his meeting with congressional leaders earlier Tuesday, Rogers said.
According to Politico, a written summary of the White House request asks for funding to arm the Syrian rebels, warning that without such funding, arming them would be “delayed.”
Rogers said he told Obama the request was “awfully late.”