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Welch: Congressional Action Is Needed For The War On ISIS

Angela Evancie
Congressman Peter Welch, shown here on Nov. 4 in Burlington, says Congress needs to take action to address the threat posed by ISIS.

When Congress returns to Washington next month for the second phase of its lame duck session, Rep. Peter Welch will be urging House leaders to schedule a comprehensive debate to consider President Obama's plan to increase military actions against the terrorist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

In recent weeks, the president has ordered air strikes in northern Iraq and Syria as part of an effort to block ISIS from capturing key cities.

Welch thinks this is a time for Congress to stand up and take a position on this issue before the situation escalates any further.

"What is not legitimate, and in my view completely irresponsible and an abdication of Congressional responsibility, is to back into this without any debate whatsoever. And that is what we are on the verge of doing." - Rep. Peter Welch

"We are now engaged in another long term military campaign and there's legitimate questions about whether we should or whether we shouldn't, or how we should do it,” said Welch. “What's not legitimate, and in my view completely irresponsible and an abdication of Congressional responsibility, is to back into this without any debate whatsoever and that's what we're on the verge of doing." 

Welch says he would vote against a plan, sponsored by Arizona Sen. John McCain, that calls for the redeployment of thousands of U.S. troops to Iraq to fight ISIS.

"I think that's a really, really bad idea,” said Welch. “So if there was an authorization that allowed that scope of activity I would be strongly against it.

Welch says he might support a plan to provide Iraqi troops with additional military supplies. But he says in the end this effort will be won or lost by those troops and not U.S. soldiers.

"Having an expeditionary force of Americans over there even if it quote 'worked' -  it would put a lid on things for a while as it did when we are there in Iraq,” said Welch. “But once we left as we would have to, those simmering disputes between the Sunni and Shia would have to be resolved - my view - ultimately they have to be resolved by the people who are in the middle with them."

Congressional leaders have indicated that they will schedule a debate over the president's military plans. It's not clear if this debate will take place next month or at the beginning of the new session in January. 

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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