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Mr. WELCH. I thank the gentleman. I also thank my colleague from Florida. I appreciate the courtesy that the Rules Committee extended to Mr. Gibson and me last evening when we offered our amendment on Syria.
Mr. Speaker, my moment here is to discuss this fundamental question about whether America is going to be taking military action in Syria without any congressional debate. We have a responsibility under the Constitution.
Article I, section 8, clause 11 gives Congress the power to declare war and raise and support the Armed Forces. My colleague from Florida rightly said that we have an obligation to support the military men and women. They will do anything that we ask them to do.
But this is the moment when we face our responsibility or shirk it--to give them a policy worthy of their willingness to sacrifice. The idea that we would take military action, and arming the Syrian rebels is military action, it is intended very specifically to take down the Government of Syria--and I want Assad to go, and we all do--but I don't want this Congress to back into a policy, stumble ahead, where we find ourselves engaged in military conflict where we haven't even met our basic responsibility to have a debate about it.
We have to decide: Are we going to be men and women of Congress, are we going to do our jobs, are we going to be Congressmen and -women, or are we going to be cowards? It is the coward's path to avoid taking responsibility for a momentous decision that we know at this moment is upon us.
Vote ``yes'' or vote ``no.'' But to have no debate, to actually once again stumble into a military action, have we learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan? Iraq right now is supporting Assad; it is supporting Iran.
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Mr. WELCH. Afghanistan is now, after 11 years, ripping us off as we try to bring our material home. Does anybody on the either side of the aisle support this? Why don't we have a debate?
I admire Speaker Boehner for saying he wants to have this House work its will. But I say to Speaker Boehner: give us a vote, let us debate, let us meet our responsibility. There will be men and women that will go into harm's way, stumble ahead, because we did not stand up and take responsibility. We are accountable to the people who elect us.