While I do appreciate that President Obama shared his approach to destroying ISIS this week, I still firmly believe that he must seek Congressional approval soon. I think the President has the authority to act without Congressional approval in the short term, but if the plan is to engage inside Syria on a regular and pre-planned basis, that is beyond his sole authority. I remain skeptical but want to be clear that I am open to listening and I will be watching over the next few weeks to see precisely what actions are proposed and taken, and whether a credible international coalition can be built. It is also important to know which regional governments are cooperating and the extent to which allies will commit their resources and forces.
Pending this, I do NOT support arming Syrian rebels immediately. If that plan had been carried out a year ago, as some American war-hawks demanded, the United States would have been arming ISIS itself both directly and indirectly. ISIS was merely part of the rebel coalition at that time, not the threat that they have since become, and our government would have entrusted them with weapons. Moreover, they would have seized these weapons from weaker rebel forces, as they have others. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a brutal despot, but there is little reason to believe that ANY of the serious opposition factions can be trusted to be any better, more tolerant or respectful of human rights. Indeed, it’s not clear at this point how the opposition factions will fare over the more fanatical and that must be taken into consideration. Syria is not the American Civil War with two clear cut sides – it is a myriad of different groups with one common enemy in Assad but otherwise different in philosophy, goals, trustworthiness and military effectiveness. The worst outcome would be to arm and support people who then morph into something more dangerous.
You can be certain that I am watching developments closely and will continue to share my thoughts with you as events unfold. I want to thank everyone who has contacted my office on this grave matter. Your opinion is important to me.
“I care always about America’s security,” Reed said. “The President’s speech was an important first step in outlining a strategy against the rising threat of ISIS and our national security. However, I hope the President outlines a clearer long-term strategy to deal with the disease causing this threat in the region and to the homeland. That’s why I want to hear personally from as many constituents as possible on what they feel is the best course for our country. We’re stronger as a nation when we’re all involved and engaged on these issues.”
Bergdahl Prisoner Exchange
On Tuesday the House considered H.Res. 644, Condemning the Obama Administration’s failure to comply with the lawful statutory requirement to notify Congress before releasing individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and expressing national security concerns over the release of five Taliban leaders and the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists. H.Res. 644 is the House response to the circumstances surrounding the May release of Sergeant Bergdahl. His freedom was obtained through an exchange with 5 Guantanamo prisoners. H.Res. 644 condemns that exchange and the failure of the administration to consult Congress before it happened. Administration officials have maintained that the opportunity to act was very limited and they believed it represented the last credible chance to free Sergeant Bergdahl. Simply put, the United States does not leave its soldiers behind on the battlefield. Furthermore, prisoner exchanges to free American soldiers have occurred throughout our history. I’d also like to underscore that this exchange took place in May and it is now mid September. The timing of this resolution for me, certainly raises questions. I voted NO. H.Res. 644 passed
Rep. Reed voted AYE.
Clean Water Act
Also on Tuesday the House considered H.R. 5078, Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act. This legislation essentially seeks to weaken enforcement of the Clean Water Act. The administration has been working to clarify what waterways fall under the Clean Water Act and H.R. 5078 blocks that effort. During the Bush Administration, two Supreme Court decisions created confusion over the reach of the law. The Bush Administration’s response at the time did not do enough to address that confusion moving forward. Earlier this year, the Obama Administration issued a proposed rule that would better define the waterways subject to the Clean Water Act. Without action, some projects impacting waterways could experience increased costs and delays because the rules aren’t clear. The administration has threatened to veto H.R. 5078. I voted NO. The legislation passed and the entire vote is recorded below:
Rep. Reed voted AYE. Rep Reed explains:
Tom Reed voted Tuesday in support of the bipartisan Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, a bill that protects local control over waterways. Reed, a co-sponsor of the bill, says it’s important for state and local officials to maintain primary responsibility over local waterways to avoid Washington from mandating sweeping, one-size-fits-all regulations.
The one-size-fits-all regulations which Rep. Reed finds objectionable would protect our waters from pollution.
More ACA Votes
On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act, which represents yet another effort to weaken the Affordable Care Act. H.R. 3522 allows insurance companies to continue offering plans that do not meet the minimum coverage requirements mandated by the ACA through 2018 and to make those plans available to new customers. Currently, only consumers already enrolled in plans that did not meet the ACA threshold could remain on those plans for an additional year. H.R. 3522 opens those substandard plans to everyone. I voted NO. H.R. 3522 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:
Rep. Reed voted AYE–another effort to undermine and disparage ACA.
© William Hungerford – September 2014