On September 17, 2014 Rep. Jolly of Florida asked for and was granted permission to address the United States House of Representatives for a few minutes regarding opposition to arming the Syrian rebels extremists:
“Mr. Speaker, we will be asked as a Congress later today to vote on authorization of the President’s request to arm Syrian rebels.
I rise this morning to oppose the President’s request, and I do so with a heart of conviction that says we must do more to combat, confront, defeat, and destroy ISIS, but also with the conviction, respectfully, that the President’s request is simply wrong.
ISIS constitutes a direct threat to the national security of the United States. My belief on this is clear. I was one of a little over a dozen Members of Congress to recently introduce legislation authorizing the President to do more.
We must eradicate the ISIS regime that perverts a religion founded on peace and uses it as a platform to engage in crucifixions and beheadings and mass murders.
But I oppose today’s request because it fails to seek the full authorization of this body. It fails to seek a clear mandate of the American people and because it asks this body to approve only one small portion of an overall strategy that is continuing to evolve. And that portion is most controversial, most questioned, and most vulnerable to failure.
We should be here today as a Congress debating whether we are a Nation at war, whether ISIS constitutes a direct threat to the national security of the United States, and if we are at war, we as a Congress should be asking the question: Are we fully engaged as a Nation to defeat ISIS, and are we fully committed to accepting the consequences and the casualties required to do so? But that is not what today’s vote is about.
Today’s vote is whether we as a Nation put our reliance on Syrian rebels, and that leaves far too many unanswered questions. We tried this in Iraq, to mixed results. We know Syrian rebels–we know this–some will cooperate with ISIS and, in fact, contribute to the additional killings of Syrian Christians and religious minorities. Are we prepared as a body to accept those collateral casualties of terror?
We know training will take months. What will we be doing tomorrow? We know Russia has declared this will be an act of aggression. What is our Nation’s response, and what is this body’s response? And how does today’s debate contribute to our Article 1, Section 8 authority under the Constitution? Are we quietly allying with the Syrian Government, a regime that 18 months ago we said we wanted to topple, or is this an act of aggression against Syria’s sovereignty? And where is this Congress in this debate?
The final question is: Do we seriously think, as the President portends, that this will not require a single pair of boots of our Special Operations community to touch Syrian soil? Do we truly rely on Syrian rebels to lay the targets for our elite air assets?
There are boots on the ground today. We can call them military advisers, but the fact is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday said, if necessary, he would recommend putting them in a combat role. We are not having that debate here on the floor of the House.
The American people deserve a President and a Congress that are honest about what we face as a Nation militarily. The doubt in this debate in this Congress has been palpable. We question the strategy, we question the trust of Syrian rebels, we question our constitutional responsibility, and yet we are prepared as a body to ignore all doubt, to ignore our uncomfortable conviction of opposition to this request simply out of a desperate hope that somehow this matter might resolve itself without the President and the Congress having a hard conversation, recognizing that we are a war weary and tired Nation faced again with an asymmetric threat from terrorists who have threatened our homeland.
We want to believe the beheadings and the audible threats of terror to our shores is not real, but we know it is. We as a Nation do not have the luxury to choose what threats confront us; we only choose our response.
So my request of my colleagues in this House is that we have a full debate on what we face as a Nation. The President has brought us this very limited request merely out of statutory convenience, not out of constitutional conviction. We should not accept that.
My request of the President is this: very respectfully, do not trample on the constitutional authority of this Congress as you reluctantly march to the drumbeat of war that you are rightfully hesitant to engage in and with an elusive strategy that leaves so many unanswered questions today.
This body should have a full debate. The American people deserve to know that the President has requested full authorization and this Congress has had an opportunity to deliberate on it. I reluctantly oppose the request today, knowing we must do so much more to confront ISIS. I ask my colleagues to do the same.”
Source: Congressional Record