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Blumenthal Statement Following Classified Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing On the Situation in Syria

[WASHINGTON, D.C] – Today, following a classified hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released the following statement on the unfolding disaster in Syria:

“This hearing dramatically deepened my feelings of horror and shame – and growing disappointment in our leaders who have betrayed our vital national security interests and our values. ISIS is an ever more urgent, clear, present, and growing threat. I have a deepening fear that ISIS will resurge, not only because of escaping detainees, but because of our clear betrayal of our partners and allies in the region. Russia and Iran are gaining influence, severely threatening our national security. As a result of our abandonment of responsibility, we are on the verge of an ethnic cleansing and potential genocide that will. To say that this situation is an unmitigated disaster is an understatement.”

“The American people deserve to hear what we heard today. There is no reason that what we heard today cannot be said, for the most part, in a public hearing.”

“In the face of President Trump’s abdication of leadership, Congress must act. Senators Van Hollen, Graham and I are introducing legislation responding to the Turkish invasion by implementing strong sanctions, a ban on arms sales and visa restrictions. We are at a moment of reckoning for the United States Congress – we see a clear disaster unfolding before us real time, and we have an obligation to act. Senator McConnell should give us a vote as soon as possible.”

This afternoon, Blumenthal will join U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and others at a press conference to introduce legislation that would impose severe sanctions on Turkish officials in response to their incursion into northern Syria. An outline of the legislation, which also includes a ban on arms sales and visa restrictions, is available here.