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Obama Wants Congress’s OK to Train Syrian Rebels. Will He Get It?

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

President Barack Obama is expected to formally ask Congress Wednesday night for authorization to begin training Syrian rebels to address the ISIS threat.

So, will Congress give it to him?

The short answer is: Not right away.

The House has decided to delay a scheduled Thursday vote on a larger government funding bill to give lawmakers more time to consider Obama's request. That's actually good news for the White House, which wants to attach the authorization to the must-pass stopgap spending legislation, also known as a "continuing resolution."

While House Republicans haven't yet agreed to do that, the delay gives the White House more time to make its case.

"I think I speak for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle when I say that we stand ready to listen and work with the president to confront this growing threat," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on the House floor Wednesday afternoon. "Now given the severity of the situation and the need for all members to properly evaluate the President's request, the House will postpone consideration of the continuing resolution which was originally scheduled for tomorrow."

Sources tell NBC News that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden had been calling lawmakers and urging them to support quick action -- before they leave for the midterm elections -- to authorize the training and arming of the vetted Syrian fighters.

Before the decision to delay the Thursday vote, House Republicans were balking at the request, saying they first needed to hear Obama’s argument for the training for the rebels before they decide how – or whether – to vote on it.

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Aides said earlier Wednesday that the ISIS request is too important – and too controversial -- to put into the stopgap measure, also known as a continuing resolution or “CR.”

“It's such a big and controversial issue that it rises above the normal constraints of a CR," one aide told NBC News. "It should be considered on its own merits."

Another GOP leadership aide emphasized that Congress has faced this question before, and that it’s far from a political slam dunk.

“This is not a new proposal," that aide said, "In the past it has faced bipartisan opposition."

It’s true that some Democrats, as well as Republicans, have expressed reservations about putting weapons in the hands of Syrian rebels, worrying that they could end up in ISIS control if the rebels aren’t properly vetted. They point to American weapons and Humvees that fell into the hands of Islamic militants in Iraq after Americans left the region.

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday urged her colleagues to attach it to the stopgap bill "as soon as possible."

"I want it to be on whatever engine is leaving the station, and that's one that is leaving the station," she said of the funding bill. "That's for sure a must-pass bill in a time certain period of time and I would hope that it would be on there."

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House Republicans will discuss the issue during a special GOP Conference meeting on Thursday morning.