Protecting the American people is our government’s number one priority. I have been a vocal advocate in Congress of our nation’s efforts to support democracy and human rights around the world. Additionally, I have always made sure that America’s servicemen and women are provided the tools and support they need to protect us from those who may wish to do harm to our country and way of life.
The Department of Defense and U.S. Armed Forces protect our nation at home and abroad through programs, initiatives, and missions. The U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard and others all work together.
There are 62,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. These levels are scheduled to be reduced to 34,000 by February 2014 and all active combat troops are set to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Under a strategic partnership agreement between the U.S. and Afghan governments, the United States has pledged security and economic assistance to Afghanistan until 2024 with the likelihood that some U.S. forces will remain in an advisory and training role after 2014.
It is imperative that our government meet the twin obligations of focusing nation building at home first and making the necessary investment to America’s infrastructure and innovation economy while also protecting our country from threats abroad. Afghanistan has been a long and costly war, resulting in the deaths of over two thousand Americans. Nevertheless, we must continue to see to it that Afghanistan never becomes a haven for al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations who may seek to attack us.
Supporting our Troops
I have always emphasized the importance of giving our troops the tools, skills, and training they need to successfully accomplish the difficult and dangerous tasks our nation asks from our service members. Sequestration should be ended as soon as possible, which is necessary to ensure that our service members have the planes, ships, and training needed to protect America while also calling for our servicemembers to receive their full annual cost of living increases and the services to support them and their families.
Foreign aid is one of our nation’s smartest and most cost-effective ways to support positive change in developing countries. Only one percent of the annual federal budget is spent on foreign aid. This aid is used to support democracy and human rights, combat HIV and AIDS infections in Africa, and help provide basic nutrition, educational, and sanitation needs to parts of the world that lack these basic resources. America cannot close its eyes to the problems that exist beyond our shores. Otherwise, those problems will only get bigger and eventually come to America. It is vital that we continue to meet our obligations to our allies, particularly in their time of need, and deliver the necessary aid to support them in defending our shared values.
Beginning in March 2013, the United States began conversations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in an effort to negate Iranian development of nuclear weapons. On November 24, 2013, the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany) announced an interim deal with Iran that would create a pathway to peaceful development of nuclear power while restricting Iranian efforts to research nuclear enrichment used for weapons grade plutonium. Iran has a long history of deceitful actions and Congress approached the deal tentatively.
In March of this year, Congress passed H.R. 1191, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. On any treaties negotiated by the President, the Senate has a constitutional requirement to advise and consent. Recognizing a constitutional role in the negotiations with Iran, the President agreed to sign H.R. 1191, which provided House and Senate oversight and approval of any final agreement between the parties. On July 14, 2015, President Obama announced a negotiated agreement, under which Iran would be required to meet a series of goals including significant international inspections, in exchange for international sanctions relief.
On July 24, 2015, Congress received a series of documents and briefings revealing the internal negotiations that took place between the P5+1 and Iran. The documents contained sensitive information regarding Iranian nuclear capacities and the details of the negotiated agreement. I read the publicized agreement and read the non-public national security section. I spent months talking to folks in our district to gain a deeper understanding of the concerns expressed regarding the deal.
I have long been skeptical of Iran and their promises to the international community; therefore I have supported all the Iranian sanctions legislation introduced in Congress. Iran has a history of saying one thing and then acting in a different, secretive way. While negotiating the nuclear deal, Iran funded terrorist organizations in Syria and the West Bank. It is actions like this that cause serious consternation in my mind.
On the 11th of September 2015, the House voted on H.R. 3461, a bill to approve the Iran Nuclear Agreement. After months of discussions and reviewing all documents associated with the deal, I determined I could not support the deal. Iran has not proven to be a trustworthy partner. The leadership has threatened the United States and our close ally, Israel, far too many times. In the last 40 years, Iran has given us no reason to trust their motives and I could not begin on that day. I support the Administration in their efforts to disarm Iran. We need to protect our allies in the region and across the globe and a nuclear-armed Iran is a very dangerous prospect. Unfortunately, there were far too many uncertainties associated with this deal for me to vote in favor of it.
I will work with my colleagues and the Administration to ensure Iran sanctions are lifted only after all nuclear programs have been thoroughly inspected by the United States and verified as well.
The Syrian Civil War, which began in March 2011, has resulted in the death of over 100,000 Syrians and displaced over 6 million people, nearly one-third of the country's population. The United Nations (UN) estimates that the number of Syrians displaced as refugees exceeds 4 million – nearly all of them now in neighboring countries such as Jordan and Turkey. Today, Syrian refugees are fleeing to countries like Germany, France, and Sweden.
The United States has consistently supported humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the conflict in Syria. It is working closely with neighboring countries, other governments, the United Nations, and humanitarian partners in its response to the crisis. Our government has allocated more than $1 billion for humanitarian activities both inside Syria and in neighboring countries, making America the largest contributor to humanitarian aid.
The President has announced the United States will increase the number of refugees accepted by the United States to 10,000 by 2017. Thus far, the United States has accepted 1,500 Syrians and will dramatically increase that number. It is important that our country participate in the efforts to resettle these refugees and help bring a negotiated peace to this terrible conflict.
Syrian refugees are currently fleeing destructive violence in their home country. The U.S. government is prioritizing the most vulnerable Syrians, particularly: female-headed households, children, survivors of torture, and individuals with severe medical conditions. To date, single young men have constituted only 2% of the Syrian refugees admitted.
Syrian refugees are subject to the highest degree of security screening and background checks for any category of traveler to the United States. All Syrian refugees are subject to the following screening conducted by Department of State (DOS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC):
- Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS) – Conducted by the Department of State contractor
- A pre-screening including name checks to establish any identified names or alias
- Security Advisory Opinion (SAO) – Conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
- State-initiated biographic check conducted by the FBI National Name Check Program
- Interagency Checks (IAC) – Conducted by the National Counter-Terrorism Center
- Screening of biographic data, including names, dates of birth, and other data points of all refugee applicants within designated age ranges
- In-person Refugee Interview – Conducted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Biometric check including:
- FBI Fingerprint Check through Next Generation Identification (NGI)
- Criminal background history
- DHS Automated Biometric Identification System
- Travel and immigration history for non-U.S. citizens as well as immigration violations, law enforcement, and national security concerns
- DoD Automated Biometric Identification System
- Record check of DoD holdings collected conflict areas including Iraq and Afghanistan
- FBI Fingerprint Check through Next Generation Identification (NGI)
- Biometric check including:
In light of the attacks in Paris, however, we need to ensure the individuals coming to our country are properly vetted. Greater coordination between the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Defense as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the National Counter Terrorism Center will provide better background on the history of the refugees. Coordination and certification are key functions of executive agencies to ensure efficient and effective implementation of our federal immigration and refugee strategy. Our national security requirements must be met but we must also honor our commitment to justice, equality and opportunity.
More on Foreign Affairs
Washington, DC – In response to President Obama’s speech on Tuesday evening regarding diplomatic solutions to addressing Syria’s use of chemical weapons, Congressman Gene Green released the following statement:
Proud to support Military Appreciation Month and record this video, which will be shared with our troops by the USO. Thank you to all of our troops and your families for your service to our nation.
May is Military Appreciation Month and Rep. Green invites you to thank the brave men and women of our nation who protect our freedom every day.