Tags: congress | obama | syria

Lawmakers Skeptical About Syria Involvement

Tuesday, 27 Aug 2013 01:01 PM

By Courtney Coren

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With President Obama seemingly ready to launch a strike on Syria, he is finding resistance on Capitol Hill.

Members of both parties see little upside in attacking Bashar al-Assad's regime, especially as they are worried about who would take control in the Damascus government fell, Politico reports.

They cite several factors that make intervention in the conflict a difficult prospect for the United States: it's too late, too dangerous, too pricey, most likely won't help and will create a vacuum of power, if Assad falls.

"Syria is too far gone to pick sides," Republican Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and former West Point instructor, told Politico.

"The rebels are infiltrated with al-Qaida. Assad has joined the ranks of history's most evil depots in what he's willing to do to stay in power. And Russia won't help us find a solution because relations [between Washington and Moscow] are as bad as they have been in 30 years. I don't see a way forward, but U.S. boots on the ground is out of the question in my opinion."

Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California, the second highest ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, warns that the United States needs to be prepared for potential "unintended consequences" of intervention that can actually "make the situation worse."

"We should take all necessary steps to support the United Nations inspection efforts and keep a close watch on who has access and who could have access to chemical weapons," Sanchez said. "We need to make sure an attack of this nature cannot happen again. Going forward, Congress should be involved in any course of action that the Obama Administration takes."

Republican Rep. David Nunes of California and Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia also warn against intervention.

Nunes says that there needs to be "some overwhelming evidence that the Assad regime has used weapons and only the Assad regime has used weapons."

Even then, he argues, launching a few missiles seems pointless. "Unless you're trying to take out the dictator himself, I don't know what you're going to do with a few missiles," he said.

Kaine thinks the United States should delay involvement unless it is clear that there is "an imminent threat to United States national security," and he argues that Obama should not take "military action without congressional approval."

However, there are some lawmakers who think some intervention is necessary including Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

Rubio and Casey are crafting legislation together to provide humanitarian aid and isolate the Assad regime.

The options facing the administration include sending in ground troops, air strikes aimed at crippling Assad's resources, and humanitarian aid.

Obama has not yet made a commitment about how the federal government will respond. On Monday, House Speaker John Boehner warned the president not to act without congressional approval.

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