Today Rep. Chris Gibson(R-NY) joined with Rep. Peter Welch(D-VT), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) to introduce bipartisan legislation that would block any military aid to Syrian rebel groups and U.S. support of military operations in Syria until authorized by a joint resolution of Congress. The bill would continue to allow for non-lethal humanitarian assistance to be provided to the Syrian people, but would require the administration to report to Congress every 90 days detailing the assistance being provided to groups, organizations, movements and individuals in Syria. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Chris Murphy(D-CT), Sen. Rand Paul(R-KY) and Sen. Mike Lee(R-UT). The following statements were made by the bill's sponsors after Rep. Gibson introduced the legislation:
"As I have long-maintained, the decision to engage overseas must be made with the utmost caution and with a full understanding of the dynamics. Most importantly, the American people, through their Congressional Representatives, must be part of this decision process. I am extremely concerned that our country is entering into a dangerous engagement in Syria absent Congressional approval and a clear understanding of the conditions on the ground. As we saw in Libya, entering complex situations can be costly, both in terms of U.S. lives and taxpayer dollars. At this point, I do not believe we should be militarily involved in Syria nor should we be providing weapons to individuals or groups involved. Most concerning is that this type of engagement is beginning with little Congressional debate. This bipartisan legislation will ensure we can maintain our diplomatic and humanitarian efforts to support the Syrian people without getting drawn into another engagement. Moving forward, it is vital that Congress be a part of this debate and provide authorization prior to any hostile action or escalation of our involvement." - Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-19)
"It's vitally important that we recognize the lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Syria is in a brutal and tragic civil war. To the extent we can help, we should help. But sending direct military assistance to Syrian rebels --some of whom we support, others we don't-- raises the real risk of Americanizing a Sunni-Shia civil war. If America is to walk down this path, Congress should be involved in the decision to do so. This bill ensures that Congress will be a part of the decision making process. Congress must accept its responsibility, not abdicate it." -- Rep. Peter Welch (VT-AL)
"Giving weapons to the Syrian opposition means, in all likelihood, that the United States will be arming and aiding extremist groups who seek to defeat us and our way of life. To make the American taxpayer pay to send arms to our enemies is madness. Rather than unilateral foreign policy decision-making from the White House, there needs to be careful debate by Congress, as is our constitutional responsibility, and a clear strategy that is in line with America's national security interests before any involvement is considered." - Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-06)
"Regardless of how you feel about the conflict in Syria, we must insure that this matter is openly and thoroughly debated and voted on by the Congress before the United States becomes involved in yet another "war of choice" we can ill afford. The simple truth is we have no friends in this conflict. The sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias has been going on for more than 1000 years. Sending arms will only escalate the violence and prolong the conflict. This matter, however tragic and sad, will not be resolved by the US's involvement or intervention and will only invite resentment from both sides, as has been proven time and time again. We must get over the false notion that the enemy of our enemy is our friend."- Rep. Rick Nolan (MN-08)
Other original cosponsors of the House legislation are Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC).