September 4, 2011
Proactively Defending Himself: The Congressman from the First District Responds
You voted "No" on the following amendment.An amendment numbered 38 printed in House Report 112-88 to require that the rules of engagement allow any military service personnel assigned to duty in a designated hostile fire area to have rules of engagement that fully protects their right to proactively defend themselves from hostile actions.
Please explain, without platitudes and with specificity, why you did so.
Congressman David Cicilline has sent the e-mail below, offered without editorial comment (in this post).
Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding H.AMDT. 318 to H.R. 1540.
As you know, in May 2011, the House of Representatives debated the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, H.R. 1540. During this time, Representative John L. Mica (R-FL) offered H.AMDT. 318, an amendment that added language requiring the Secretary of Defense to ensure that the rules of engagement for members of the Armed Forces would "fully protect the members' right to bear arms; and authorize the members to fully defend themselves from hostile actions." This amendment passed the House by a vote of 260-160, and was included as part of the final bill that the House passed by a vote of 322-96. This bill now awaits further legislative action in the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
I joined 141 other Democrats and 18 Republicans in voting against this amendment because it does nothing to change existing rules of engagement for American service members. Our men and women in uniform already possess the right to bear arms whenever they are in harm's way. Furthermore, when they are instructed on the rules of engagement, our troops are explicitly told that nothing prevents them from using deadly force to defend themselves. That's why a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which oversees all American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, told the Wall Street Journal that H.AMDT. 318 "would likely not change a thing" about existing policy for the Armed Forces.
Americans are fortunate to live in a free and safe society because of the valiant efforts, brave actions, and immense sacrifices of the individuals who have served in our armed forces. We owe our troops, veterans, and their families our utmost gratitude and respect, in addition to exceptional care and benefits, which they earned defending our great nation and our way of life.
I strongly share your concern for the well-being of our troops and veterans, and I will fight in Congress to ensure our government fulfills its promises to all who serve. Our nation owes so much to the members of our military for their selfless sacrifices, and it is our responsibility to honor their generous acts of patriotism.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding H.AMDT. 318 to H.R. 1540. Your thoughts and opinions on this issue are of great value. Please feel free to use my office as a resource at any time, and visit www.cicilline.house.gov for up-to-date information on a wide range of issues before Congress.
I look forward to further correspondence with you on this and any other matter of concern you may have in the future.