The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a brutal terrorist organization that poses a real and credible threat to the United States and our allies. The Administration must have a bold strategy to respond quickly and decisively to address this threat.
As Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in August, “ISIS is an imminent threat to every interest we have. They are as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group. This is beyond anything we’ve seen. We must prepare for everything.”
ISIS can be defeated, but it will require this Administration to demonstrate that attacks on Americans, and our ideals, will lead to strong repercussions by the U.S. Last week, the Administration asked Congress for broad authority to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition and requested $500 million for this effort. However, the request lacked the level of detail I needed in order to vote to give the Administration such broad authority. I personally support a strategy that provides the Administration with limited authority that includes strong accountability and oversight of the actions taken.
This week Congress voted to provide limited authorization for the Administration to train and equip appropriately vetted Syrian rebels. To ensure that proper oversight and accountability is occurring, we require the Administration to submit to Congress a description of the plan for providing assistance, the process used to vet aid recipients, procedures that will be used to monitor the use of U.S. equipment our government provides and a description of how the aid fits within a larger regional strategy to defeat ISIS.
We require that Congress receive a progress report within the first 90 days of the mission and every 90 days thereafter, on any changes to the plan, statistics on violence against U.S. forces by the Syrian rebels and an assessment of the effectiveness of U.S. assistance. Additionally, Congress did not authorize the Administration to put U.S. soldiers on the ground. We did not provide any of the additional funding the Administration requested, but allowed the Defense Department to use existing funds and use contributions from foreign countries supportive of the U.S. strategy. This Congressional authorization expires no later than December 11, 2014.
With these changes, I was able to vote yes on the amendment overseen by Congressman Buck McKeon, Chairman of the House Armed Services committee.
ISIS represents an extreme vision of the world that has no place in modern day society. While it is not up to the United States alone to defeat this terrorist organization, we have the responsibility to protect our citizens, and ensure this group does not continue to grow stronger and threaten our way of life.
Member of Congress