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Like all Americans, my grave concerns about the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have only grown over the past 10 months. There is no doubt that this radical Islamic organization has deliberately perpetrated unspeakable acts of terror against innocent people and that it poses a direct threat to the region and our own national security.
ISIL is only growing and expanding its reign of terror. Last month, it took over the key city of Ramadi and continues to seize U.S. military equipment for its evil purposes. Over 60 Americans have been charged with trying to join ISIL or are suspected of supporting the group in some other way; we have even seen this here in Virginia. We must do more to dismantle and destroy this radical terrorist organization.
Ten months ago, the President addressed the nation about the growing threat of ISIL and commenced air strikes against its forces, but clearly, these operations have not achieved a great deal of success. Last week, on an international stage, he admitted that he does not yet have a clear, complete strategy to defeat ISIL. Given that American servicemen and women are in the line of fire, this is absolutely inexcusable. For ten months, we have led more than 3,400 air strikes in Iraq and Syria and have spent nearly $3 billion, all without authorization from Congress.
In February, the President released a draft Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution against ISIL, but Congress cannot even begin to consider the President’s request until he outlines a comprehensive strategy. He must explain to Congress and the American people what exactly it would be voting to authorize. The Constitution requires the President to obtain authorization from Congress to wage war. The American people and their representatives in Congress must be afforded the opportunity to engage in an honest and candid debate on the scope of any military action before sending our brave men and women in uniform into harm’s way.
As I met with veterans and active duty service members across Virginia’s Fifth District earlier this month, I was once again reminded of the tremendous sacrifice we ask of our troops who bravely defend our interests both at home and abroad. This is a stark reminder of the need for a fully defined strategy before we send our brave men and women into danger.
It is my fervent hope that with pressure from Congress and the American people, this Administration will develop a strategy that will indeed stop the malicious force that is ISIL. And once the President does so, I look forward to thoroughly considering his request in Congress and giving all Americans a say in this most important of debates.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.