Senate blocks direct US aid to Kurdish forces
The Senate on Tuesday blocked an amendment that would have allowed the Obama administration to send direct aid to Kurdish peshmerga forces in Iraq, The Hill reports.
Senators voted 54-45 on the amendment, from Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA.) The amendment faced a 60-vote threshold to be attached to the defense policy bill.
The proposal would have granted a temporary authorization for President Obama to give weapons and training directly to the Kurdish forces rather than having to work through the Iraqi government in Baghdad.
Ernst suggested that the measure was a necessary step to help defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS.)
“ISIS is deadly and determined, and Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS need weapons as quickly as possible,” she said on Monday afternoon. “We simply cannot afford future delays at this critical moment in the battle.”
Ernst added that her amendment didn’t force the president to directly aid the Kurdish peshmerga forces, but gave him the option to do so.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) backed the administration, saying Ernst’s amendment could unintentionally bolster ISIS.
“It would undermine the authority of the central government,” Cardin said late Monday afternoon. “We need to have a central government that represents all the communities of Iraq.”