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Area Lawmakers Respond to President's Address on Syria
CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- President Obama made his case for a military strike against Syria's Assad regime Tuesday night as he asked Congress to delay voting on military action to give diplomacy a chance.
"When dictators commit atrocities they depend upon the world to look the other way," President Obama said of the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons on civilians. The attack killed more than 1,400 civilians last month including children. Mr. Obama said he would not put U.S. servicemen and women on the ground in Syria. He described any strike as "limited."
"This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective: deterring the use of chemical weapons and degrading Assad's capabilities."
The president's address came at the end of a day of dramatic developments which included dueling proposals from France and Russia that call on the Assad regime to abandon its chemical weapons. Syria agreed to Russia's proposal while President Obama voiced support for the French plan that would require Syria to abandon its chemical weapons or face the consequences.
Meanwhile, on the Senate floor, two Republicans representing parts of the tri-state said they will not back a strike.
"I will be voting against this resolution. Our vital national security risk is clearly not at play," Sen. Mitch McConnell said.
Sen. Rob Portman also said he could not vote to support military action. "Strike first, strategy later is a recipe for disaster. If the current resolution comes to the floor as a result, if the current resolution being considered, I would not be able to support it."
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has been a vocal opponent of U.S. military action in Syria. He spoke following the president's address. "The president has not made a compelling case that American interests are at risk in Syria. The threshold for war should be a significant one," Sen. Paul said.
In the end, President Obama said he may have to use force in Syria, which would dissuade other countries - such as Iran - from using chemical weapons.
"When, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act," Mr. Obama said.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester) has voiced support for a military strike on Syria. Tuesday evening, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R) of Cincinnati said he will not vote to support military action. "I do not support the resolution authorizing military force in Syria. Over the last week, I have harbored strong concerns about such a resolution, but reserved judgment until I heard all the facts, including the Administration's case presented in classified briefings, hearings and briefings through the House Armed Services Committee, on which I serve, and multiple media interviews by President Obama," Wenstrup said.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) remains undecided. "I'm encouraged that President Obama will make his case to the American people and seek approval from Congress before taking military action in Syria. We need to build international support around clear objectives for ending the violence against the Syrian people," Sen. Brown said in a statement.
President Obama is sending Secretary of State John Kerry to Switzerland Thursday to meet with Russia's foreign minister. Russian officials want the U.S. to agree to permanently call off a strike if Syria surrenders its chemical weapons.