Congresswoman Katherine Clark sent out a letter Wednesday laying out her vote on the amendment to authorize the Secretary of Defense to arm and train Syrian rebels to fight ISIL.
Clark represents the Massachusetts Fifth District, which includes Watertown.
Here is the letter she sent out:
Later today, the House will vote on an amendment to authorize the Secretary of Defense to arm and train Syrian rebels. I want you to be the first to know how I plan to vote and why.
ISIL has demonstrated their willingness to use terrorism and violence to meet their goals. They have brutally executed Americans and present a grave threat to our allies in the region. However, after listening to and questioning the administration, defense experts and military personnel, I have decided I cannot support the proposal before Congress today to arm and train Syrian rebels.
There are no clear answers yet to how we would vet these rebels, how we would prevent our arms from falling into enemy hands, and the efficacy of the programs that have already trained and armed thousands of Syrian rebels. The civil war in Syria is complex with volatile shifting allegiances. This proposal cannot be evaluated accurately without a discussion of a comprehensive strategy. Anything less than a full debate on the scope of military involvement, alliances, costs, and metrics for success is a disservice to the American people and to our constitutional obligation.
We should not being taking up a piecemeal response to ISIL presented as a last minute amendment to a government funding bill. The proposal to arm “moderate rebels” has to be evaluated in the context of rapidly escalating U.S. military involvement and over a decade of war in Iraq that has cost 4,500 American lives and over a trillion dollars.
Congress has no more serious responsibility than to be deliberative about any plan that sends our sons and daughters into harm. When making decisions of this magnitude, with repercussions that could span generations, Congress should be fully debating the appropriateness and scope of the military action.
My children have spent their entire lives with the backdrop of war. As I evaluate the appropriate response to ISIL, I take very seriously my duty to all our children, to my district and country, and the men and women of our armed forces.