Rep. Lipinski Votes for Limited Authority to Support Syrians Battling ISIL
Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) joined a bipartisan group of members today in helping pass an amendment to give the Defense Department authority to train and equip Syrians fighting the terrorist group ISIL. The amendment was added to a bill that will fund operations of the government until December 11th. That legislation was passed by the House and final approval is expected in the Senate as early as tomorrow.
Statement from Rep. Lipinski:
“The terrorist group ISIL is a threat, not only to people in Iraq, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East, but to the rest of the world, including all of us here at home. We have seen their inhuman brutality not just in the beheadings of two Americans, but in the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people. Women are especially subject to horrible acts by ISIL.
“Unfortunately, the Administration failed miserably in leadership when it came to addressing this threat over the past couple of years. Without leadership from the U.S., no one else has and no one else will step forward, and ISIL will continue to grow. We should not allow this threat to our security to continue to grow.
“I share the concerns that many Americans have after the debacle following the Iraq invasion. The lost lives and wasted resources are heartbreaking. We cannot repeat those mistakes. But that is not a reason to do nothing.
“I support the Administration’s decision to begin air strikes against ISIL, although I believe that congressional approval should be sought if this campaign is to continue. We have seen these air strikes save many people from a humanitarian crisis and we have seen ISIL’s advance thwarted.
“But in addition to air strikes, in order to push ISIL back, there is a need for troops on the ground. It makes sense that these troops are the people from the region who have the most on the line right now. In Iraq, the Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces are on the ground. In Syria, the plan is to train and equip appropriately vetted Syrians to do the fighting on the ground.
“While I have some concerns about this plan, the amendment we voted on today makes sure that Congress receives details about how the Defense Department will screen, train, and equip the Free Syrian Army and/or other non-terror aligned groups prior to that taking place, and about the mission’s strategy, timeline, and level of involvement of U.S. forces, and following that, progress reports every 90 days about changes or updates to the plan, statistics on attacks and American assistance, and the effects of our assistance. The Administration must follow through on these requirements and Congress must seriously conduct oversight and decide whether to continue or to cut off the authorization and funding.
“American forces should not be the frontline of this fight. The Administration must use the means of persuasion at its disposal to build a broad regional and international coalition. But it is imperative for American security that ISIL be dismantled and we must keep up the fight.”
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