Preventing ISIL-Inspired Attacks Requires Defeating ISIL
‘Our responsibility in the Senate is to make a choice: Work on serious solutions to prevent terrorist attacks, or use the Senate as a campaign studio. Yesterday the FBI Director came to deliver a critical briefing on Orlando and explain what’s needed to prevent similar terrorist attacks in the future. Senate Republicans attended and asked serious questions; a group of Senate Democrats regrettably skipped it for a campaign talk-a-thon.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the need for the President to lay out a credible plan to defeat ISIL. The following are Senator McConnell’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Over the past few months, terrorists inspired or directed by ISIL have committed mass murder in Brussels, in California, and in France. When ISIL issued a call for lone wolf attacks against the West during Ramadan, its followers heard the call.
“This week, just outside Paris, more innocent lives were ended brutally — by a terrorist who broadcast news of the attack over the Internet.
“This week, in Orlando, Americans were targeted deliberately and taken forever from their families — by a terrorist ISIL has claimed is ‘one of the soldiers of the caliphate.’
“It’s clear from his behavior that this was not a random act of violence. This was a calculated act of terror.
“As CIA Director John Brennan testified this morning before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Islamic State militants are ‘training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks on the West.’ He also called this terrorist attack an assault on the values of openness and tolerance that define the United States as a nation. He’s right. It throws into stark relief the troubling reality we now face.
“ISIL is not the JV Team. ISIL is not ‘contained.’ ISIL is the personification of evil in our world, and it will continue to bring tragedy after tragedy to our doorsteps until it is defeated.
“President Obama needs to finally lead a campaign to accomplish this objective, or at the very least prepare the military and intelligence community to help the next president do so if he won’t. This is his primary responsibility in the wake of this terrorist tragedy.
“Here is ours. Our responsibility in the Senate is to make a choice: Work on serious solutions to prevent terrorist attacks, or use the Senate as a campaign studio.
“Yesterday the FBI Director came to deliver a critical briefing on Orlando and explain what’s needed to prevent similar terrorist attacks in the future. Senate Republicans attended and asked serious questions; a group of Senate Democrats regrettably skipped it for a campaign talk-a-thon.
“It’s hard to think of a clearer contrast between serious work for solutions on the one hand and endless partisan campaigning on the other.
“Doing what we can to fight terror beyond our borders and prevent attacks within our border were priorities of ours well before the terrorist attack in Orlando, they continue to be at the forefront of our efforts now.
“We just passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act. It will go a long way toward helping Americans confront global security challenges today and toward preparing the next commander-in-chief to take on threats tomorrow.
“We’re now working to pass an appropriations bill that will give the FBI and other law enforcement officials more of the resources needed to track down and defuse threats on American soil. As we consider that measure, we’re continuing to explore additional tools that can help prevent devastating terrorist attacks — like tools to help us permanently address the threat of lone wolf terrorists, and to help us connect the dots when it comes to terrorist communications.
“Now is the time for Democrats to finally join with us in pursuing serious solutions that can make a real difference. As we said on Tuesday, there will be amendment votes on this bill — and yesterday, we were prepared to begin that process but were unable to get amendments pending because of extended floor debate.
“We will try again today to move forward with amendments from both sides, and once there is an agreement to do so, we’ll update everyone.
“Of course no one wants terrorists to be able to buy guns — let’s get real here — so if Democrats are actually serious about getting a solution on that issue, not just making a political talking point, they’ll join with us to support Senator Cornyn’s SHIELD Act. It will give the Justice Department the ability to prevent known or suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms. It will protect the Constitutional rights of all Americans. It will go a step further too, and actually allow terrorists to be taken into custody if a judge finds probable cause. Now that’s a serious solution on this issue.
“Let’s remember, however, that this issue represents only a piece of a much, much bigger challenge. Director Brennan also told the Intelligence Committee today that ‘despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach.’
“If we want to prevent ISIL-inspired and directed attacks, we have to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Here’s what that means. From the White House, it means we don’t need another lecture or another threat to veto the defense bill — it means we need real leadership and a plan of action to defeat ISIL. From our colleagues in the Senate, it means we don’t need more campaign talk-a-thons — it means we need serious solutions and hard work. That’s what our constituents sent us here to do. We may have gotten held back by a day, but now we’re able to keep moving forward to set up votes on both sides, just as we always expected.”