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Local Lawmakers Sound Off On President Obama's Request For Military Strike On Syria
As President Obama asks Congress to approve a limited military strike on the Assad regime in Syria, representatives and senators in the tri-state are talking about whether or not they will support the request.
Congressman Steve Chabot sits on the House Foreign Affairs committee and has not yet decided whether he will support U.S. military involvement in Syria. Wednesday, he questioned Secretary of State John Kerry who appeared before the committee to make the case for a strike.
"Let me ask you this: if the British parliament had not rejected Prime Minister Cameron on the Syria issue, would President Obama have bothered to come to Congress," Chabot asked. Kerry responded, "I believe he absolutely would have."
A number of lawmakers representing the tri-state remain undecided on whether they would authorize a strike including Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, Indiana Senators Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly and their counterparts in Ohio Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup who's an Iraq war veteran also remains undecided.
"I'm very concerned obviously about what the plan would be and what the national security interests are for the United States of America. And what are the potential repercussions and how do we plan to deal with those," Wenstrup told Local 12 News Wednesday.
The Obama Administration wants Congress to authorize a limited military strike on the Assad regime to punish it for using chemical weapons on civilians although President Obama has said he believes he could act without the approval of Congress.
House Speaker John Boehner of West Chester backs the strike and Wednesday Rep. Luke Messer (R) of southeast Indiana joined him.
"If I had to vote today to on whether or not to authorize force against Syria under the circumstances presented before me I would vote yes," Messer told Kerry during Wednesday's hearing.
Two lawmakers from Kentucky are opposed to U.S. military action in Syria. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Rep. Thomas Massie have been outspoken opponents.
"I think it could escalate quickly because the Syrian government, their targets are local and they could, for instance, attack Israel at which point Israel is going to respond and then you're going to have other countries possibly get involved, Massie said.
House members will receive a classified briefing on Monday. Rep. Massie said nothing in that briefing will change his mind since 99% of the constituents who have contacted his office oppose a strike on the Syrian government.
Statements from elected officials from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana are listed below:
"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. - Senator Sherrod Brown, (D) Ohio
"I think it is good that the President is including Congress in the decision on the use of force in Syria. I am closely reviewing the intelligence available on the August 21 attack and the options going forward. The evidence now is solid that Syrias Bashar al-Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people. The question is what actions are appropriate to take. I look forward to reviewing the specific language of the resolution that just passed out of the Foreign Relations committee. - Senator Rob Portman (R) Ohio
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I am following the situation very closely. I support President Obama's decision to seek Congressional approval. Like all Hoosiers, I strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons and am carefully reviewing proposed options for ongoing humanitarian assistance and possible military action. I was in Washington on Sunday and today [Wednesday] for classified briefings and look forward to the debate. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) Indiana
The president's decision to set a 'red line' with Syria while failing to have a long-term strategy in place unfortunately has left the U.S. without any good options. I am pleased, however, that President Obama is seeking authorization from Congress for potential military action in Syria so the American people can have a voice in this debate. I will be traveling across Indiana next week to hear from Hoosiers so I can take their views back to Washington. I will continue to urge the administration to work with our friends and allies on a comprehensive strategy to address the broader challenges throughout the region. Senator Dan Coats (R) Indiana
Today the President advised me that he will seek an authorization for the use of force from the Congress prior to initiating any combat operations against Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons. The Presidents role as commander-in-chief is always strengthened when he enjoys the expressed support of the Congress. Senator Mitch McConnell (R) Kentucky
"We are told there is no military solution in Syria, yet we are embarking on a military solution. The President has failed to demonstrate a compelling American national interest in the Syrian civil war. To be sure, there is a tragedy of a horrific nature in Syria, but I am unconvinced that a limited Syrian bombing campaign will achieve its intended goals. I frankly think that bombing Syria increases the likelihood of additional gas attacks, may increase attacks on Israel and turkey, may increase civilian deaths, may increase instability in the Middle East and may draw Russia and Iran further into this civil war. By pre-announcing a limited attack, we pre-announce limited effect. Our brave young soldiers should not be asked to risk their lives and limbs in a civil war with no certain ally. On the one hand, we have a tyrant who gassed his own people. On the other hand, we have radical Islamists and al-Qaida. When no compelling American interests exist, we should not intervene. No compelling interests exist in Syria." Senator Rand Paul (R) Kentucky