The two members of Congress who represent parts of Shelton both voted against providing U.S. aid to arm and train moderate armed opposition groups in Syria.
Democratic U.S. Reps. Jim Himes and Rosa DeLauro both said while they support U.S. airstrikes and counter-terrorism measures against the ISIS terrorists operating in Iraq and Syria, but worry about the consequences of getting too involved in another Middle East quagmire.
The amendment to arm the Syrian rebel groups passed the U.S. House by 273-156 in a bipartisan vote. The groups are fighting the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as well as the ISIS terrorists. In recent weeks, ISIS members have beheaded three Westerners — two Americans and a Brit — and publicized the brutal acts through Internet videos.
Most of Shelton is in the Fourth Congressional District represented by Himes, now in his third term, while some is in the Third District, represented by DeLauro, now in her 12th term.
Himes: A risk of ‘unintended consequences’
Following is a statement by Himes on the vote:
I continue to support an aggressive counter-terrorist strategy that includes airstrikes and other counter-terrorism measures that have proved successful against ISIS, al Qaeda and other terrorists in places like Afghanistan, Yemen and North Africa.
“It is clear that ISIS, if left unchecked, could threaten key American allies and ultimately pose a direct threat to the United States,” Himes said. “I am not, however, comfortable with the creation of a U.S. proxy army over which we would have limited control, and whose mission is split and unclear.
“I am deeply concerned that funding a proxy group of Syrian rebels who are acting in America’s name will make the United States a principal player in what is essentially a Sunni-Shia civil war,” he said.
“This proxy force would essentially be carrying out two, highly complex operations at once — fighting both ISIS terrorists and the Assad regime’s well-trained regulars. It would be bad enough to be on one side of a Middle Eastern civil war; now we appear to be on both sides,” he said.
“It is unclear how the United States will vet the Syrian rebels and what kinds of weapons we will give them,” Himes said. “There are too many variables that risk unintended consequences such as human rights violations and having U.S. weapons fall into the hands of terrorists.
“Unfortunately, our experience with military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya show that outcomes are always unpredictable, and rarely good,” he said.
DeLauro: Provides too broad of authority
“I want to be clear: We need to take action against the threat posed by ISIL and I support the president in the use of air strikes,” DeLauro said in a statement. “But our response must also be appropriate to the complexity of the situation on the ground in Syria.”
Following is a more complete statement made by DeLauro on the House floor explaining why she would vote against the amendment.
“We must make sure that any response to the threat we face does not plunge us deeper into a complicated and sectarian civil war,” DeLauro said.
“Syria is a deeply complex situation. It is a nation in the midst of a civil war, splintered between Shia and Sunni, authoritarians and al Qaeda, and along countless other points of fracture,” she said.
“We need to take action against ISIL, and I support air strikes and other counter-terrorism measures,” she said. “But I believe that the amendment before us today provides much broader authority, and I cannot support it.”
In a press release, DeLauro stressed she supported the air strikes ordered by President Barack Obama last month to protect American personnel and security interests from ISIL, as well as the humanitarian air drops.
At that time she reiterated her belief that the region’s problems cannot be solved by the American military — instead, she said, they must be solved by people in Iraq and across the region.