It's not often that Sen. Mark Begich, who has worked to define himself as a conservative Democrat, finds himself on the same side as his more liberal colleague Mark Udall—against the president.
As Congress prepares this week to pass a measure approving of President Obama's plan to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an unusual group of allies is rising in opposition. Facing tough campaigns against Republican opponents this November, Begich and Udall are singing similar tunes. Both senators warned this week that they will oppose the president's request to arm and train rebel fighters in the region over fears that any weapons provided to the opposition could quickly fall into ISIS's hands.
Begich, who also cited concerns that the federal government has already spent too much money to prop up Syrian opposition in the region with few results, went a step further than Udall. Begich said Monday that it is "very possible" that he will vote against funding the government through December if the authorization measure is included in that package, which appears increasingly likely.
Despite his objections to the ISIS plan, Udall has not said whether he will oppose the continuing-resolution package. His office said that it was too early to say how the senator would vote, until the House clears the bill. Udall's concern is with the potential scope of American involvement in the country, comparing the measure before the Senate this week to the Iraq War authorization in 2002. Signaling agreement with his opponent, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, Udall said that he does not support any American boots on the ground in the region.