Sen. Deb Fischer never expected to specialize in foreign affairs when elected to the United States Senate, but it has become a big part of the job.
Fischer, a member of the Armed Services Committee, acknowledges she has had trouble at times getting answers from the Obama Administration, especially when questioning key members about the strategy to combat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“That’s a frustrating part of the job,” Fischer tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview.
Frustrating perhaps, yet a question by Fischer during a hearing held by the Armed Services Committee sparked change.
Fischer asked U.S. Central Command Commander, General Lloyd Austin III, about the administration program to train and equip Syrian rebels. Austin shocked the committee by stating only four or five trained Syrians remain in the fight against ISIL, far short of the goal of assembling an army of 5,000 to 12,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight ISIL.
The “train and equip” program began with high aspirations and a $500 million budget. Fischer supported it as did Congress. Instead of thousands, it assembled only 60 troops who were routed in their first conflict, leaving at best five troops.
In wake of the disclosure, the administration ended the program.
“That I think maybe spurred a change in the strategy that the administration has in Syria,” Fischer says of her question to Austin. “So that makes a huge difference to be able to do something like that.”
Fischer says she likes to develop relationships with her colleagues and has found it takes a certain skill to be able to navigate through some her relationships in the Senate. Fischer says each senator works hard for the people they represent. Each senator is very different, according to Fischer, shaped largely by their region of the country and their constituents.
The work can be daunting. Fischer says each senator must juggle a wide range of issues with a lot of time spent on committee assignments and studying the various issues before Congress.
Overall, Fischer says she views her role as bringing Nebraska ideas and concerns to Washington.
“So I hope to be able to continue to do that,” Fischer says. “I hope that I’ll be an active member of the Senate. I enjoy the work. It’s an honor to be here and I want to be active and make a difference and make people’s lives better.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 minute]