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Congresswoman Clarke Opposes the McKeon Amendment

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement regarding her “no” vote on the McKeon amendment. The legislation authorizes the Department of Defense to train and arm the Syrian rebels, identified as the moderate elements of the Free Syria Army, to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The bill passed by a vote of 273 to 156.

“As our recent history demonstrates, armed conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan have often resulted in increased – and unanticipated – involvement by the armed forces of the United States. Before the War in Iraq, for example, the administration of President George W. Bush assured Congress and the American people that the conflict would end quickly, without substantial loss of life. Yet, American troops remain in Iraq, even after 4,487 were killed and 32,226 wounded. In Afghanistan, the Taliban were armed through the Congressional appropriations process, also known as ‘Charlie Wilson’s War,’ in their battle against the Russians, only to become our fiercest adversaries and a breeding ground for terrorists. We cannot risk a similar outcome in Syria. If and when our nation becomes more substantially involved, we must have a comprehensive plan – from start to finish,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “The idea that we can simply train and equip Syrian rebel fighters to combat ISIS/ISAL to eliminate the terrorist threat to our nation flies in the face of the practical realities of the nature of the threat and the realities of the threat to the rebels themselves, that being the Assad Regime. I am deeply concerned that our interests are not necessarily aligned with the Syrian rebels. Whether these rebels are truly our allies remains to be seen. Those who we train today could ultimately become our enemies, and could deploy the weapons which we have provided them against us and our allies. At a time when Republican leaders in Congress want to eliminate resources for job training programs and social services for families, I cannot in good conscience, given the current conditions in Syria of an ongoing civil war and a failed state, support the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars from much needed domestic priorities into this precarious situation.”

U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke is a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Ethics, and Homeland Security, where she is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. She represents many neighborhoods in central and southern Brooklyn, NY which include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, parts of Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.