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Rep. Welch Co-Leads Bipartisan Coalition Demanding House Vote on Use of Military Force Against ISIS

November 10, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON– Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) is the co-leader of a new bipartisan coalition of 35 House lawmakers demanding the House of Representatives debate and vote on U.S. military involvement in the campaign to defeat ISIS.  

Following the recent announcement by President Obama of a deepening entanglement in Syria and Iraq, Rep. Welch and his colleagues sent a letter on Friday to House Speaker Paul Ryan demanding House action on an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).  Joining Welch in leading the letter were Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Tom Cole (R-OK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and John Lewis (D-GA).  Click here to view the letter.

“Last week, the president announced [that] the U.S. will deploy a U.S. Special Operations contingent into northern Syria to be embedded with and to advise opposition militant forces in that region; and U.S. military advisors and special operations forces already in Iraq will be embedded with Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the front lines of combat,” the letter reads. “A significant escalation in U.S. military operations in the region” that places “U.S. military personnel on the front lines of combat operations.”

“We do not share the same policy prescriptions for U.S. military engagement in the region, but we do share the belief that it is past time for the Congress to fulfill its obligations under the Constitution and vote on an AUMF that clearly delineates the authority and limits, if any, on U.S. military engagement in Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region,” the lawmakers added. 

“Congress can no longer ask our brave service men and women to continue to serve in harm’s way while we fail in carrying out our constitutional responsibility in the area of war and peace,” the lawmakers concluded. “As long as the House fails to assert its constitutional prerogatives and authority, the Administration may continue to expand the mission and level of engagement of U.S. Armed Forces throughout the region. We strongly urge you, Mr. Speaker, to bring an AUMF to the floor of the House as quickly as possible.”

Other Members signing the letter are Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Michael Burgess (R-TX), David Cicilline (D-RI), John Conyers (D-MI), Joe Crowley (D-NY), John Abney Culberson (R-TX), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), John Garamendi (D-CA), Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Richard L. Hanna (R-NY), Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Daniel Kildee (D-MI), Raúl R. Labrador (R-ID), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Bill Posey (R-FL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Mark Sanford (R-SC), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Ted S. Yoho (R-FL), and Ryan K. Zinke (R-MT).

The full letter can be found below:

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232 U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Ryan,

            Among the issues that require urgent attention by the U.S. House of Representatives is the question of the extent of involvement by the U.S. military in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  Given the recent announcement by President Obama of a deepening entanglement in Syria and Iraq, it is critical that the House schedule and debate an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as quickly as possible.

            Last week, the president announced initiatives that escalate U.S. engagement in combat operations in Syria and Iraq.  Specifically, the U.S. will deploy a U.S. Special Operations contingent into northern Syria to be embedded with and to advise opposition militant forces in that region; and U.S. military advisors and special operations forces already in Iraq will be embedded with Kurdish and Iraqi forces on the front lines of combat.  Secretary of Defense Carter also stated that U.S. air operations in both Syria and Iraq will increase their bombing campaigns.  Taken all together, these represent a significant escalation in U.S. military operations in the region and place U.S. military personnel on the front lines of combat operations.

            We do not share the same policy prescriptions for U.S. military engagement in the region, but we do share the belief that it is past time for the Congress to fulfill its obligations under the Constitution and vote on an AUMF that clearly delineates the authority and limits, if any, on U.S. military engagement in Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region.   U.S. bombing campaigns have been going on for more than a year, and U.S. troops on the ground have been increasingly close to or drawn into combat operations, including the recent death in combat of a special operations soldier in Iraq.

            Consistent with your pledge to return to regular order, we urge you to direct the committees of jurisdiction to draft and report out an AUMF as soon as possible.  We do not believe in the illusion of a consensus authorization, something that only happens rarely.   We do believe the Congress can no longer ask our brave service men and women to continue to serve in harm’s way while we fail in carrying out our constitutional responsibility in the area of war and peace.

            As long as the House fails to assert its constitutional prerogatives and authority, the Administration may continue to expand the mission and level of engagement of U.S. Armed Forces throughout the region.  We strongly urge you, Mr. Speaker, to bring an AUMF to the floor of the House as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,


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