The bill, introduced Thursday, would ban the Department of Defense, the CIA and all other agencies from funding any military, paramilitary or covert operations in Syria, a news release said. The legislation wouldn't affect humanitarian aid.
Udall's co-sponsors are Mike Lee, R-Utah; Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.
All four have spoken out strongly against President Obama’s decision to arm rebel groups in Syria. Udall, Murphy and Paul, are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They cast the lone votes in the committee against authorizing the White House to arm and train rebels fighting the forces of President Bashar al-Assad in the ongoing civil war.
A Pew poll released early this week showed 70 percent of Americans opposed to arming the rebels while only 20 percent support it. Sixty percent of those polled said the rebels might be no better than Assad.
Udall in a statement said:
“I am deeply disturbed by the current situation in Syria and atrocities committed by President Assad’s regime and other militant groups inside Syria. The ongoing humanitarian tragedy deserves the attention of the international community. But there are too many questions about how the President’s decision to arm the Syrian rebels will be handled, and unfortunately many of those answers are being kept secret. We don’t know where the money is coming from, who the arms are going to, and whether the arms are going to individuals who have the capabilities to maintain a chain of custody of those weapons. This would not be acceptable in any standard sale of weapons to another government and should definitely not be acceptable for sales to rebel groups we know little about. We need to place a check on the President’s unilateral decision to arm the rebels, while still preserving humanitarian aid and assistance to the Syrian people, and that is why I’m introducing this bill. Bottom line: We should not get involved in another civil war in the Middle East without a clear national security interest.”