WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following statement at a committee hearing on the growing strategic threat of ISIS:
“Thank you, very much, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank our witnesses for their testimony. Our hearing today, takesplace in the wake of President Obama sending his request for the use of force to the Congress yesterday. The AUMF lands squarely in the jurisdiction of this committee, and I look forward to working with Chairman Royce and all of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle tothoroughly review the President’s proposal and our overall strategy to defeat ISIS in the days and weeks ahead.
“We’re obviously trying to deal with the appalling humanitarian situation, including the three million Syrians and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have been driven from their homes, as well as the spillover affecting Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt.
“We’ve worked to cut off ISIS’s funding stream, cracking down on their efforts to smuggle oil and kidnap for ransom. And I am working on legislation to [protect] cultural properties so that groups like ISIS cannot steal a country's heritage and sell it to pay for their weapons of terror.
“We’re attempting to stem the flow of foreign fighters, helping to ensure that when we remove an ISIS extremist from the battlefield, there isn’t another recruit from France or England or the U.S. waiting to take his place.
“And the coalition is pushing back against false, dangerous, and violent ideology preached in ISIS propaganda.
“Coalition military operations are making some progress, and under the cover of coalition airstrikes, we are seeing some reversals in ISIS gains. As the Chairman spoke about, we continue to advise and assist the Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish peshmerga. And I share the Chairman’s thoughts on the peshmerga, and the Kurds. ISIS has been driven out of Kobani. And, we continue to prepare for training and equipping moderate, vetted Syrian opposition, though this effort is slow-moving and long, long, long overdue, in my opinion.
“So the coalition is working the way a multilateral effort should. And when questions arise, we’re trying to meet concerns. We were able to bring the UAE back into this effort as one of our most reliable allies in the region. And that’s why Jordan has doubled down on its commitment in the aftermath of the horrific murder of Captain al-Kasesbah
“Obviously we’re not out of the woods. I want to start by talking about the AUMF. The President put his language as a starting point on the AUMF, so I’d like to hear from the witnesses what their thoughts are. Should this AUMF be limited to a certain geographic area? Should it limit U.S. combat troops on the ground? Should we consider a sunset clause for an AUMF? Why don’t we start with Ambassador Jeffrey.”
Watch Rep. Engel's opening statement here