September 16, 2014
On Friday I shared my thoughts with you on the Obama Administration’s developing plan to destroy ISIS and my concerns over arming the Syrian rebels immediately.
The House tomorrow will vote on a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government beyond September 30th. As part of that legislation, the House will also consider an amendment to provide funds to arm some Syrian rebels with certain conditions imposed. Here is the text of the amendment if you would like more detail.
Over the past few days my staff and I have attended numerous meetings, asking questions and gathering information. I wrote last week that I remain skeptical about arming the rebels but I am open to listening. I have approached all of the briefings this week with that perspective; I am keeping an open mind and am working to fully understand all aspects of current circumstances as well as strategies to address them.
Based on what I have read and heard, my opinion remains the same. I believe that the President should continue the air campaign against ISIS in order to protect our interests and allies. The Administration should continue building an international coalition; and the strategy should be refined as more information becomes available and as circumstances change on the ground. Today, America does not yet have enough reliable allies willing to shoulder enough of the burden in this effort. Today, we have not vetted any faction within the Syrian opposition enough to trust them. Let’s not forget, a year ago, many ISIS fighters would have been trained by the U.S. as part of a “trusted” force.
At this time, I cannot support this amendment. If the strategy is clarified and international partners make firm and explicit commitments to participate, Congress can and should be called back into session immediately for further discussion and a vote on the matter. The House should not rush to judgment in such a complicated region until there is more certainty surrounding our alliances and the goals of any mission.
Equally important, this issue should not be an amendment to a Continuing Resolution necessary to keep the federal government running until after the election. These are separate and distinct issues and each is important enough to be voted on separately. Absent additional information, I will vote NO on the amendment.