WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives on H.Con.Res. 105, affirming that American troops should not be deployed in a sustained combat role in Iraq without specific Congressional authorization:
“Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.Con.Res. 105, it reaffirms our belief that U.S. troops should not be deployed in a sustained combat role in Iraq without specific Congressional authorization, and I yield myself the five minutes.
“Since last December, the terrorist group ISIS has marched across Iraq with lethal efficiency. Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul have fallen to their control. Thousands of Iraqi soldiers have been killed or have laid down their weapons. The military equipment they left behind—some supplied by the United States—is now in the hands of these fanatics.
“After easing the border—after erasing the border between Iraq and Syria, ISIS has advanced toward our ally, Jordan. And the leaders of ISIS have declared an Islamic Caliphate, promising to rule with a brand of barbarism—such as mandatory female genital mutilation—more suited to the Dark Ages than the 21st century.
“Madam Speaker, the threat posed by ISIS is real. Iraq is teetering on the brink, and we cannot allow that country to become a safe haven for terrorists that could be used to launch another 9/11. While the Hamas terrorists are pushing forth in Gaza, the ISIS terrorists are pushing forth in Iraq.
“At the same time, however, we need to make clear to the American people and to the Iraqi government that the U.S. combat mission in Iraq is over. After losing more than 4,000 American lives, and spending more than a trillion dollars, we cannot allow ourselves to be sucked into another sectarian quagmire.
“The crisis in Iraq cannot be solved through military means alone. The solution will be rooted in real political changes in Iraq: more inclusive policies and a greater effort to avoid sectarian conflict.
“President Obama removed the last American combat troops from Iraq on December 18, 2011—under an agreement reached by the Bush Administration. And he has no intention of sending them back—a position with which I firmly agree.
“As the President said last month, “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region, and American interests as well.”
“In the last several weeks, the President has expanded intelligence and surveillance efforts. He’s sent a contingent of troops to protect our diplomatic personnel at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. And he’s deployed small military assessment teams to get information about the threat that ISIS poses to Iraq, to the region, and to American interests.
“I support these measures. They represent the sort of security cooperation with the Iraqi government that we should be offering to support our own national security interests. But they don’t require the sustained presence of American combat troops in Iraq.
“At the end of the day, we all know it’s past time for the Iraqi government to confront some serious challenges. These will require an Iraqi solution, one based on respect for each other and the rule of law.
“I’d like to thank Representative McGovern, Representative Jones, and Representative Lee for their tenacity and leadership in sparking this important debate. They have worked with us in the Foreign Affairs Committee constructively with me and Chairman Royce both, along with the House leadership on both sides of the aisle, to ensure that the amendment we are considering today would enjoy broad bipartisan support.
“So I hope that the process which brought about today’s bill will serve as an example of bipartisan cooperation for the House to follow in the days to come.
“I urge my colleagues to support this resolution and I yield the balance of my time and the rest of the time in doing this debate to Mr. McGovern who will manage the rest of the measure. I yield back.”