Rand Paul Signs on to Amendment Barring Ground Troops Against Islamic State
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has had a devil of a time with his amendments related to foreign policy. This week, the Foreign Relations Committee rejected Paul's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinians. The prospects look better, but not much better, for Paul's co-sponsorship of an amendment to strengthen the 1971 Non-Detention Act. On the campaign trail, Paul likes to talk about his amendment that would have paid for higher military funding with cuts to foreign aid. The story ends with most senators voting against him.
Thursday, Paul took on another uphill and telling battle. He co-sponsored an amendment from Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, that would bar funding for ground troops being sent to the Levant to fight the Islamic State. The amendment's text:
No funds appropriated by this Act may be used to support the deployment of the United States Armed Forces for the purpose of ground combat operations in Iraq or Syria, except as necessary-
- For the protection or rescue of members of the United States Armed Forces or United States citizens from imminent danger posed by ISIL; or
- To conduct missions not intended to result in ground combat operations by United States forces, such as-
- intelligence collection and sharing;
- enabling kinetic strikes
- limited operations against high value targets;
- operational planning; or
- other forms of advice and assistance to coalition forces fighting ISIL in Iraq or Syria
Questions to Paul's office and presidential campaign went unanswered, but he's left no confusion about his Islamic State stance. Since last fall, he's favored attacks on Islamic State positions that threaten American interests. He's also favored arming the Kurds as they fight the group, telling an audience this weekend in Merrimack, N.H., that America should take the military equipment that's unused and "rusting" in Afghanistan and "airlift it" to any Kurds who need them. At the same event, Paul spoke about giving the Kurdish minority a state of its own after the defeat of the Islamic State.
All of this, according to Paul, would require a new Authorization of Military Force, and new funding votes. That's Murphy's position, too, and the position of several progressive co-sponsors. Paul, for now, appears to be the only Republican (and only Republican presidential candidate) taking this stance via the NDAA amendment.