House Republicans are looking to add significant oversight language to legislation authorizing the Obama administration to provide weapons and training to moderate Syrian rebels, in an effort to force the administration to keep Congress in the loop as it tries to stabilize the Middle East.
The House Armed Services Committee is working on language authorizing the administration to act in Syria, and is expected to have it ready for a House vote later this week, according to House aides.
Late last week, the White House sent Congress proposed authorization language for Syria. While that language did not include any specific measures allowing for congressional oversight, Republicans are expected to add these steps in themselves before passing it.
"One of the components that was missing was any sense of oversight," one House staffer told TheBlaze. This staffer said Congress typically includes oversight language that takes the form of periodic reporting requirements to Congress.
Another aide said House members are considering language that would provide authorization for a limited length of time, such as six months, after which further authorization would not be allowed until the proper reports to Congress are filed. "I think there is going be some mechanism in the law for the White House to keep Congress regularly updated on the efforts in Syria," this aide said.
House staffers agreed that language authorizing actions in Syria is expected to be added to a bill that funds the government through mid-December. While some Republicans have opposed combining these two issues, the House is expected to have two separate votes — one on the funding bill, and another vote on whether to add the Syria language.
That should satisfy those looking to hold separate votes on the two issues, and still allow the House to send over a single bill on spending and Syria that will let the Senate hold just a single vote.
But while Congress will authorize action in Syria, it is not expected to pass any resolution authorizing Obama's proposed stepped up airstrike campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq.
Some Republicans have said Congress should authorize this new step, and even the White House has said some show of support from Congress would be welcome. One House staffer said that while many Republicans would like to pass language authorizing even more aggressive steps against the Islamic State, Republicans feel like they have little choice but to let Obama try his plan first, since the matter is urgent and there is no agreement between Republicans and Democrats on a more aggressive plan.
"You kind just have to close your eyes and hope it goes well," this staffer said.