- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, said the Senate needs to stay in session and have a full debate on authorizing military force for a campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Mrs. Collins said she’s received calls from President Obama and Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, to discuss her concerns about arming and training Syrian rebels and was told the military has gotten better at vetting.

“But one has only to look at the attacks, the insider attacks in Afghanistan to continue to have a lot of concerns,” she said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Mrs. Collins called for staying in session and having a full debate on the issue; the Senate has plans to vote Thursday on a spending bill that funds the government past Sept. 30 and addresses arming and training the rebels, which is one part of Mr. Obama’s outlined plan to degrade and destroy the Islamic State. The provision on training the rebels was passed Wednesday in the House as an amendment to its spending bill.

She said she supports airstrikes in Syria and “boots on the ground,” but that Arab countries in the region should provide ground troops.

“Look, I’m willing to give the president a certain amount of time to put his strategy into effect and then evaluate it, but this really is not the way we should be operating,” she said. “This is a very serious, complex issue and it deserves a debate on a new authorization for the use of military force, because when we’re talking about going after targets in Syria, particularly targets that affect the Syrian regime, that’s an act of war, and we should not be rushing through such an important decision,” she said.

She called for the administration to send such an authorization for consideration in the Congress.

“There are members of the Senate, such as Senator Tim Kaine, who have drafted their own authorization. But we really should see what the administration wants very specifically,” she said. “And there’s no reason for us to adjourn tonight. We could stay in session and have a full debate on this really important issue. I think that may happen in the lame-duck session after the election. But really, it should be happening right now.”

She said she planned to support the broader funding measure because she doesn’t want the government to shut down, but said that it’s “just plain wrong” that a separate vote on the Syria resolution is not planned.

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