Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Arizona Delegation Splits Vote On Arming Syrian Rebels; Dems Split, Repubs Split; Text of Resolution; Reaction From AZ Reps.

The final vote was 273-156.  The Republicans split 159-71, and the Democrats split 114-85.  The Arizona delegation was even more closely split.



Here is the text of the passed Amendment:
The text of the amendment is as follows:
    At the end of the joint resolution (before the short title), insert the following:
    Sec. X. (a) The Secretary of Defense is authorized, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to provide assistance, including training, equipment, supplies, and sustainment, to appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups and individuals for the following purposes:
    (1) Defending the Syrian people from attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and securing territory controlled by the Syrian opposition.
    (2) Protecting the United States, its friends and allies, and the Syrian people from the threats posed by terrorists in Syria.
    (3) Promoting the conditions for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Syria.
    (b) Not later than 15 days prior to providing assistance authorized under subsection (a) to vetted recipients for the first time--
    (1) the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees and leadership of the House of Representatives and Senate a report, in unclassified form with a classified annex as appropriate, that contains a description of--
    (A) the plan for providing such assistance;
    (B) the requirements and process used to determine appropriately vetted recipients; and
    (C) the mechanisms and procedures that will be used to monitor and report to the appropriate congressional committees and leadership of the House of Representatives and Senate on unauthorized end-use of provided training and equipment and other violations of relevant law by recipients; and
    (2) the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees and leadership of the House of Representatives and Senate a report, in unclassified form with a classified annex as appropriate, that contains a description of how such assistance fits within a larger regional strategy.
    (c) The plan required in subsection (b)(1) shall include a description of--
    (1) the goals and objectives of assistance authorized under subsection (a);
    (2) the concept of operations, timelines, and types of training, equipment, and supplies to be provided;
    (3) the roles and contributions of partner nations;
    (4) the number of United States Armed Forces personnel involved;
    (5) any additional military support and sustainment activities; and
    (6) any other relevant details.
[Page: H7557]  GPO's PDF
    (d) Not later than 90 days after the Secretary of Defense submits the report required in subsection (b)(1), and every 90 days thereafter, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, shall provide the appropriate congressional committees and leadership of the House of Representatives and the Senate with a progress report. Such progress report shall include a description of--
    (1) any updates to or changes in the plan, strategy, vetting requirements and process, and end-use monitoring mechanisms and procedures, as required in subsection (b)(1);
    (2) statistics on green-on-blue attacks and how such attacks are being mitigated;
    (3) the groups receiving assistance authorized under subsection (a);
    (4) the recruitment, throughput, and retention rates of recipients and equipment;
    (5) any misuse or loss of provided training and equipment and how such misuse or loss is being mitigated; and
    (6) an assessment of the effectiveness of the assistance authorized under subsection (a) as measured against subsections (b) and (c).
    (e) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
    (1) The term ``appropriately vetted'' means, with respect to elements of the Syrian opposition and other Syrian groups and individuals, at a minimum, assessments of such elements, groups, and individuals for associations with terrorist groups, Shia militias aligned with or supporting the Government of Syria, and groups associated with the Government of Iran. Such groups include, but are not limited to, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Jabhat al Nusrah, Ahrar al Sham, other al-Qaeda related groups, and Hezbollah.
    (2) The term ``appropriate congressional committees'' means--
    (A) the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Appropriations, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives; and
    (B) the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Appropriations, and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate.
    (f) The Department of Defense may submit a reprogramming or transfer request to the congressional defense committees for funds made available by section 101(a)(3) of this joint resolution and designated in section 114 of this joint resolution to carry out activities authorized under this section notwithstanding sections 102 and 104 of this joint resolution.
    (g) The Secretary of Defense may accept and retain contributions, including assistance in-kind, from foreign governments to carry out activities as authorized by this section which shall be credited to appropriations made available by this joint resolution for the appropriate operation and maintenance accounts, except that any funds so accepted by the Secretary shall not be available for obligation until a reprogramming action is submitted to the congressional defense committees: Provided, That amounts made available by this subsection are designated by the Congress for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985: Provided further, That such amounts shall be available only if the President so designates such amounts and transmits such designations to the Congress.
    (h) The authority provided in this section shall continue in effect through the earlier of the date specified in section 106(3) of this joint resolution or the date of the enactment of an Act authorizing appropriations for fiscal year 2015 for military activities of the Department of Defense.
    (i) Nothing in this section shall be construed to constitute a specific statutory authorization for the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations wherein hostilities are clearly indicated by the circumstances.

    (j) Nothing in this section supersedes or alters the continuing obligations of the President to report to Congress pursuant to section 4 of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1543) regarding the use of United States Armed Forces abroad.
Statement from Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2), voted yes:
“We must work aggressively along with our allies to degrade and defeat the terrorist group ISIL to stop their savage slaughter of innocent civilians and to protect American interests at home and abroad,” Barber said today. “I voted to give the Pentagon authority to work with moderate Syrian opposition forces – but this is not an open-ended commitment. As part of this approval, the president will be required to report to Congress on strategies being implemented and their progress.”
Statement from Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3), voted no:
“If we’ve learned one thing in the thirteen years since we rushed into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is that wars cannot be rushed. Conflicts cannot be won through cut corners and half-measures. We must be deliberate, and have a clear depiction of our allies and enemies alike. We must have assurances and participation from other nations in the region. We must have a clearly defined – and achievable – mission. Most importantly, it must be clear in our minds how we will bring hostilities to an end. “On every one of these thresholds, the arming of Syrian rebels to confront ISIL fails to reach the mark. While I am deeply troubled by the violence spreading in the region, I will not cast a vote that only further complicates and intensifies the fight. “Syrian rebels are not loyal to our flag, and they will not do our bidding. They will pursue their own interests, and while allied today, they may be a sworn enemy tomorrow. We have seen time after tragic time that the weapons we provide will be aimed at our own troops if that comes to pass. “A successful response to this crisis can only come with the significant involvement of other nations in the region. They have the most to lose if ISIL remains unchecked, and they have a vested interest in the social, political and economic implications of this conflict. If we proceed despite the tepid response from nations like Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, we will be taking sides in a civil war and welcoming the perception that we’ve adopted the conflict as our own. “This is not a strategy for victory or a roadmap to peace. It is a prescription for more war, and I cannot in good conscience support it.”
Statement from Rep. Matt Salmon (R-CD5), voted no:
“In addition to the fiscal irresponsibility of perpetually passing continuing resolutions to fund our government, I have grave concerns over the implications of passing an amendment that supports the President’s plan to fund, train, and arm Syrian rebel fighters.  By coming to the Congress only with the most contentious aspect of his ISIS strategy, the President shows that he only cares for Congress’ input when he seeks to avoid potential political pitfalls by diffusing responsibility.
“Furthermore, like many Americans, I’m concerned over the President’s ability to positively differentiate between our allies and our adversaries in the Syrian conflict.  As we have seen in Iraq, arming a group of fighters is not wise if those individuals will either desert their posts or support the enemy they claim to oppose.  The President’s assurances that he knows who should be receiving our aid are not enough.  Congress has an obligation to ensure that our weapons are not used against U.S. forces or U.S. interests before we authorize their disbursement.  Two weeks ago, the President called the Free Syrian Army a ‘fantasy;’ now he wants them to be the tip of the spear in America’s ISIS strategy.
“It is undeniable that ISIS poses a serious threat to the U.S. and our national interests.  As I stated last week after the President’s address, I stand ready to assist him in confronting and eliminating this threat, but only after he presents Congress with a full comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS and asks for Congress’ full authorization of force.  By doing so, he will convince our allies that America stands ready to work with them in defeating threats to our freedom.  Nonetheless, the President must recognize that each day that passes without him working with Congress to show a unified front is another day wasted in eradicating Islamic extremists and achieving our objective of protecting America’s security.”
Statement from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4), voted no:
"Furthermore, the McKeon Amendment which approved of the President’s plan for dealing with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a poor strategy. I voted against arming violent death squads that have no loyalty to the United States or our values. We have no allies in Syria. We should not be spending precious taxpayer money and jeopardizing the lives of our soldiers to help one terrorist group fight another terrorist group. Further, Congress has not declared war, as is required under the Constitution. We cannot fund a war that we have not officially declared. Several generals and foreign policy experts have stated that it will take American boots on the ground to finish the job and dismantle ISIS. The President continues to make clear this is not an option, even contradicting military advisors within his own administration. I have serious concerns about the President’s plan or lack thereof. As such, I could not support this panicked reaction to "do something" that is not thought out and lacks a winnable strategy."

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