Earlier today in the White House Rose Garden, President Obama announced he has decided the U.S. should use military force against the Syrian government in retaliation for chemical weapons attacks. However, he will wait for Congressional authorization. A vote in Congress most likely won’t happen until lawmakers return to Washington D.C. on Sept. 9.
Members of Congress, including those from Idaho, had told Obama any military action should require approval from Congress. Much of the recent discussion about Syria has focused on that aspect, so lawmakers haven’t yet given much indication about which way they will vote. Many have requested feedback from constituents.
Here’s what local lawmakers have said this week about military action in Syria:
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
“The use of chemical weapons, as well as conventional weapons, on innocent civilians in Syria is abhorrent and must end. However, as the recent past has taught us, we must be exceedingly cautious in making any decision that holds the possibility of entangling our nation in a long, drawn-out conflict.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
In a Tacoma News Tribune article published Wednesday:
“Senator Cantwell has serious questions about the strategic goals of a military strike in Syria and possible outcomes,” the statement said. “She looks forward to hearing more from the Obama administration on its strategy to promote a stable Syria and avoid open-ended involvement in an escalated regional conflict.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
Posted on Facebook on Friday:
“As the crisis continues in Syria, should the President determine military action is necessary, he needs to respect the Constitution and recognize the authority for action in Syria must come from Congress. The violation of human rights and loss of life is horrendous, yet the President must make his case to Congress and the American people before launching any military strike. Keep calling my office to let me know your thoughts.”
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Posted on Facebook on Wednesday:
“Many of you are asking my thoughts on Syria. Syria is a difficult and tragic situation and one that I continue to monitor. U.S. involvement in Syria must be consistent with protecting our national security interests. It is paramount that the President engage in a full dialogue with the American people and with Congress before taking any action.”
Sen. James Risch (R-ID)
In a Friday interview with the Idaho Statesman, Risch questioned the long-term consequences and whether it was America’s responsibility to interfere:
“We shouldn’t just be attacking to be punitive,” Risch said in a telephone interview Friday. “I have real reservations about this. . . .What concerns me the most is where are we going with this?”
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID)
In a newsletter statement dated Friday:
“…it is imperative that President Obama consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military forces against Syria. The president should not be under any illusion that Congress will be silent should he move forward without our consent. When it comes to the power to declare war, Congress’ rights, and the president’s responsibilities, are not open to interpretation; they are established facts. What’s at stake here isn’t the wisdom of going to war with Syria – that is a debate that can and should take place – it’s the question of whether the president will follow the Constitution and whether the Congress will demand that he follow it.”
The newsletter statement concludes:
“President Obama has yet to make a credible case for action in Syria. The United States – as a free people – should be eternally vigilant against threats to our liberty, both foreign and domestic. But we must do so after robust debate in Congress about the appropriateness of action in Syria and a vote for or against authorization.”
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