September 18, 2014

Gillibrand Statement On Today's Vote On Arming And Training Syrian Rebels

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the following statement today after the Senate passed a continuing funding resolution that includes authorization for the arming and training of rebels in Syria:

“I believe that ISIL today poses a serious threat to U.S. interests and our allies in the region, and must be addressed, because if left unchecked could grow into a serious threat to our homeland in the future. While I support many aspects of the President’s plan to degrade ISIL's capabilities, previous history leads me to conclude that arming Syrian rebels would be an ineffective solution with potentially serious unintended consequences in the long-term.

“After consulting with national security experts and administration officials, including classified briefings and an Armed Services Committee hearing, I remain unconvinced that arming the so-called moderate Syrian rebels is the correct approach. I would strongly have preferred to see a stand-alone bill put on the Senate floor because I can not support a spending bill containing authorization for such an action.

“As proven by recent events in Iraq, military action and training without a robust and inclusive political solution will not succeed. I commend and support the President for his efforts to bring together a broad, international, multilateral coalition – with Arab and Muslim countries stepping up and being deeply involved. ISIL poses an existential threat to the region. The vast majority of its victims have been Muslims. This fight must be their fight too with meaningful contributions from Arab and Muslim governments by supporting the new Iraqi government, shutting down borders to ISIL fighters and weapons, providing intelligence, and working to shut down ISIL’s access to financing.

“On the question of whether Congress should have to vote on long-term military action within Syria, in my view, the President has not made a convincing case he has this authority under the 2001 or 2002 AUMF. I hope we will have the opportunity to debate and vote on a new authorization. No President, of either party, should have such broad authority of long-term military involvement without the consent of Congress.”