In response to the Pentagon's deployment of about 400 American ground troops to Syria, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) is introducing a bill Friday that would block the Defense Department from putting any more "boots on the ground" in the ongoing conflict.
"The bill I am introducing today prohibits the Department of Defense from funding any attempt by the administration to expand our presence in Syria by putting U.S. combat boots on the ground," Lee told The Hill in a statement.
Lee was famously the only member of Congress to vote against the authorization of military force (AUMF) in the wake of the September 11 attacks. As Lee predicted at the time, the AUMF has now been used to bypass Congressional approval for seemingly endless U.S. military assaults throughout the Middle East.
Lee and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on Thursday roundly condemned the deployment of additional ground troops to Syria. "Today's revelation that about 400 additional forces, including Marines, are being sent to Syria is concerning and signals mission creep," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), CPC co-chair. "After years of war and hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, it is clear that increased U.S. military action will not solve the crisis in Syria."
"It is our constitutional duty as members of Congress to place a check on the executive branch in matters of war and peace," Lee added to The Hill. "We owe it to our brave service members to live up to our constitutional duty."
The outlet reports:
Under Lee's bill, the Pentagon would be prohibited from using funds to send troops to Syria for ground combat operations, award a contract to a private security firm for ground activity, or otherwise establish or maintain a presence of U.S. troops or a private security contractor in Syria.
The bill would allow for exceptions to "protect, rescue, or remove" U.S. personnel.
Lee had tried to introduce similar language as an amendment to the defense spending bill passed by the House on Wednesday, but was blocked by the House Rules Committee.
The language in the new bill is even stricter; the amendment to the spending bill would have allowed for special operations forces.
"I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in preventing this president from sending our troops into yet another unchecked, ill-advised war without a full and robust debate from Congress," Lee said.
The escalation of U.S. involvement in Syria comes as the Pentagon also considers deploying 1,000 additional troops to Kuwait—and as independent monitoring shows U.S. coalition airstrikes have already killed over 2,500 civilians in Iraq and Syria, as Common Dreams reported.