Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes Against Arming Terrorists in Defense Authorization Bill
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement after voting against the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
“This bill contains the same deeply concerning and dangerous Syria train and equip measures that I’ve fought against since the program's inception.
“First, it creates the potential for dangerous ground-to-air missiles getting in the hands of ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups. Several months ago, as this bill was being crafted, I and many of my colleagues voted for an amendment that would have prohibited the Department of Defense from transferring any Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPAD) to fighters in Syria. In the wrong hands, these dangerous weapons are capable of shooting American planes out of the sky. The final bill that passed today allows for the transfer of MANPADs, with some weak restrictions, which could allow terrorist groups to get ahold of them and use them against the United States and our allies.
“Second, the bill reauthorizes and extends the Syria train and equip program for two years. When the Department of Defense brought this program to Congress two years ago, I strongly opposed it due to a weak vetting process, and counterproductive objectives. As predicted, the program turned out to be a failure, and resulted in the United States wasting hundreds of millions of dollars, arming poorly vetted groups who—instead of fighting against ISIS, al-Qaeda, or other terrorist groups—ended up joining these terrorist groups in their battle to overthrow the Syrian government.
“Over the past 2 years, the Department of Defense has made several improvements to the vetting process and clarified the program’s objectives. These improvements have helped to ensure that we work solely with forces that share our common goal of defeating ISIS. However, the bill that passed today leaves out all of these improvements, allowing these authorizing provisions to be used once again to further the illegal, counterproductive regime change war against the Syrian government. If successful, this war will strengthen groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, worsen the humanitarian crisis, and cause even greater destruction and suffering in Syria. I will continue to do all I can to end this devastating war, focus our resources on nation building here at home, and defeat terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS who threaten the American people.”
The FY17 NDAA passed the House today by a vote of 375-34. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and the Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation worked to secure the following provisions in the final bill:
• Talia’s Law will help to better protect military children from abuse and strengthen mandatory reporting requirements. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced and passed Talia’s Law through the House in February, and also included its language in this year’s NDAA.
• Strengthened missile defense capabilities against the threat posed by North Korea, including upgrades for existing missile defense infrastructure in Hawaiʻi
• Improved environmental protections for Hawaiʻi, including requiring the Navy to brief Congress on the infrastructure plan to improve the Red Hill Underground Fuel Facility and protect the water aquifer from potential fuel leak contamination
• $72 million for projects at Kāneʻohe Bay Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi for a consolidated communications and electrical facility in support of modernization projects
• $40 million for the second phase of the state-of-the-art Command and Control Facility at Fort Shafter
• $31 million for a National Guard combined support maintenance shop in Hilo to support ongoing training at Pōhakuloa Training Area
• More than $14 million for an energy conservation project at the National Security Agency-Hawaiʻi in Kunia
• Over $43 million for the continued power grid consolidation at Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauaʻi
• $11 million for the Air National Guard F-22 Composite Repair Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam