The Senate has passed a bill authorizing President Barack Obama to begin arming “moderate” rebels in Syria as part of a plan to step up the US military campaign against Islamic State militants.
The bill, which easily passed Thursday by a vote of 78-22, is headed to Obama’s desk for his signature.
It allocates $500 million not only to the arming and training of Syrian rebels, but also to the expansion of US military action in Iraq.
Included in the bill is also the extension of US government funding until December 11.
Speaking shortly after Congress approved his plan, Obama welcomed the bipartisan vote.
“The House and the Senate have now voted to support a key element of our strategy,” he said. “We are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together.”
“When you harm our citizens, when you threaten the United States – it doesn’t divide us, it unites us,”Obama added.
He also reiterated once again that “American forces deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.” This pledge has been questioned over the last few days, particularly when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he’d go back to the president and ask for ground troops if the situation in Iraq worsens.