WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, confronting the biggest international crisis so far in his time as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, introduced a bill Monday that would provide for arming Syrian opposition groups fighting against president Bashar al-Assad.
"The Assad regime has crossed a red line that forces us to consider all options," Menendez, a Democrat, said in a news release. "The greatest humanitarian crisis in the world is unfolding in and around Syria, and the U.S. must play a role in tipping the scales toward opposition groups and working to build a free Syria.”
Menendez's bill would give the Obama administration authority to provide arms, training and non-lethal supplies to vetted Syrian opposition groups. It would also create a $250 million transition fund for a post-Assad Syria.
Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey also has a deep interest in the issue as chairman of the foreign relations subcommittee that handles near Eastern affairs.
“Mounting evidence of chemical weapons underscores the imperative that the United States stand with the people of Syria during this critical period," Casey, a Democrat, said in a release late last month. "The fall of Assad is not only good for Syria, but will deal a significant blow to Iran and Hezbollah."
In March Casey and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) introduced a bill that would have provided humanitarian assistance, non-lethal equipment and training for Syrian opposition groups.