Cicilline Amends Defense Authorization, Helping Enhance Safety of American Troops
WASHINGTON – Continuing to work across the aisle for Rhode Island, U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) today successfully offered two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act that step up pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the production and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are frequently used in attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.
“So many Rhode Islanders have bravely served in the war in Afghanistan, and some have made the ultimate sacrifice. With the conclusion of our efforts in Afghanistan finally within reach, it is imperative that we do everything we can to provide for the safe return of our brave men and women in uniform,” said Cicilline. “My amendments will help step up pressure on Pakistan to effectively crack down on IEDs, and I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting these important amendments.”
Cicilline’s efforts to enhance the safety of American troops still serving in Afghanistan passed the House with bipartisan support. Amendment 118, which the House adopted by a voice vote, requires that, before providing reimbursement to Pakistan for its efforts in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Secretary of Defense certify that Pakistan is taking “demonstrable steps” to support counterterrorism operations, dismantle IED networks, prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials, and issue visas in a timely manner for U.S. Government personnel supporting counterterrorism efforts in Pakistan.
“Pakistan needs to show that they are taking the necessary steps to fight terrorism and help ensure the safety of our remaining troops in Afghanistan,” added Cicilline. “As long as we have men and women in harm’s way, we need to know that we have an effective partner in our efforts – these amendments will encourage Pakistan to offer solutions and hold them accountable for their efforts.”
Cicilline also proposed Amendment 121, which ties the funding of the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund to a certification by the Secretary of Defense that Pakistan is making significant efforts to implement a comprehensive strategy to crack down on the production of IEDs. This amendment, which was also adopted by a voice vote, follows recent reports documenting that calcium ammonium nitrate, which is the main ingredient in up to 75% of IEDs in Afghanistan, is sold legally in Pakistan even though it is banned in Afghanistan.
During his first term in Congress, Cicilline has been a vocal advocate for bringing American troops home from Afghanistan as quickly and responsibly as possible – with the Providence Journal describing him as the Rhode Island representative who has been “most critical” of the pace of troop withdrawals.
The NDAA passed with Cicilline’s amendments by a vote of 299-120. A video of Cicilline’s floor speech can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT6vlVRIrGo.