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Four Of Five Oklahoma Congressmen Vote To Arm Syrian Rebels

Oklahoma's U.S. House delegation.
U.S. Rep. James Lankford

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine was the only member of Oklahoma's U.S. House delegation to vote against President Obama's request to train and arm rebels fighting Islamic State militants in Syria.

Bridenstine says that if the Islamic State is deemed a threat, the United States should "eliminate it," not train and arm rebels.

U.S. Reps. Tom Cole, James Lankford, Frank Lucas and Markwayne Mullin all voted in favor of the plan, which passed the House on a 273-156 vote Wednesday.

Lankford said the plan is similar to recent proposals in Iraq.

Watch: U.S. Rep. James Lankford explains his vote on the amendment to arm Syrian rebels, followed by his remarks on the House floor


"ISIS would have already overrun Iraq if we had not trained the Iraqis and the Kurds in the years past," Lankford said. "So we need to be able to do the same thing in Syria for them to be able to defend themselves and be able to defend for what is uniquely American values as well, and for uniquely American priorities."

But during floor remarks in support of the amendment, Lankford criticized President Obama for not having a longer-term strategy to defeat the Islamic State.

"Bombing some of ISIS' facilities and training 5,000 foreign fighters is not a plan," Lankford said. "If ISIS is a direct threat to the United States, we should treat them that way. It's going to make the American people second-guess the treat, by saying the American people will be protected by the Free Syrian Army."

The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the proposal Thursday.

The proposal was added to a must-pass, stopgap spending bill to keep government agencies operating into December. The measure is the last major business on Capitol Hill before lawmakers depart this week.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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