Courtney Statement on Vote on McKeon Amendment
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Joe Courtney issued the following statement on the McKeon Amendment to the Continuing Resolution, to provide authority for the Defense Department to train and to equip Syrian opposition forces:
“Last week, the President laid out a plan to combat ISIL and engage our regional allies in this important challenge. His plan included the extension of Title 10 Training and Equipping authority, which is the limited subject of the measure I voted in favor of today, towards training moderate elements of the Syrian opposition to serve as a regional counterweight to ISIL’s brutality. This measure, which is strictly limited in time and scope, provides the same authority that the U.S. military has used in 28 countries over the last three years to bolster allies’ military capabilities.
“The program approved in the House today will provide similar assistance to moderate Syrians who oppose both ISIL and the vicious Assad regime. The goal of Title 10 programs is to create an indigenous force in Syria that, alongside regional partners such as the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and the newly reconstituted government of Iraq, can take responsibility for their own neighborhood. As members were informed in briefings last week, this training will take place outside of Syria in Saudi Arabia, a Sunni nation. This point is significant because it makes clear that the effort to defeat ISIL is not an anti-Sunni cause, which the propagandists who populate ISIL would be quick to exploit.
“Many questions and concerns remain about this program and the larger strategy to combat ISIL, and I share them. However, I believe that this measure strikes a sensible balance between providing the authority and support the President has requested, and establishing a narrow scope of operations with robust Congressional oversight. Most importantly, this amendment does not provide any additional authorization for use of force, it does not declare war, it does not commit American ground combat forces in the fight against ISIL, and it does not provide an open-ended blank check to this or any future president. I continue to believe firmly that any expansion of this mission requires the consent and approval of Congress. Going forward, I urge President Obama and his Administration to work with Congress as the situation in Syria and Iraq evolves, and for the Congress to reconvene if there are urgent developments.”