Iowa Congressmen Not Ready To Endorse Syria Strike
By James Q. Lynch, Reporter
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa congressmen are advising caution and offering only tepid support for President Obama’s call for military action against Syria.
Although he finds the president’s statements “compelling,” Iowa senior member of Congress, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, said Iowans at his recent town hall meetings had “lots of questions” and he needs to know more about the administration’s goals before offering support.
Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin came away from a classified congressional briefing over the weekend with more questions than answers.
Although Syria’s “atrocious use of chemical weapons against civilians is an affront to human values and a violation of international law (that) should be condemned by the international community,” Harkin warned against a unilateral response.
“We should not rush into what may become a new open-ended war without broad international backing or a full understanding of the ramifications,” he said.
Obama is asking Congress to approve military action against Syria, which the administration alleges launched a chemical weapon attack against rebels that killed more than 1,400 people, including several hundred children.
Last week, Obama put his plans on hold and announced he would seek congressional approval for military action. This is a district work week for Congress. Senators and representatives are not scheduled to return to Washington until Sept. 9.
Iowa’s U.S. House members seem no more eager for military action than Harkin and Grassley.
First District Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley called for House leaders to immediately call Congress back into session to debate military action in Syria. Although he believes Obama is making the right decision to seek congressional authorization for a military response, Braley stopped short of endorsing such action.
Likewise, 2nd District Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack condemned Syria’s action, but said Obama must make the case to the American people for military action.
“The use of chemical weapons against civilians is morally reprehensible,” he said. “However, after more than a decade of war during which time our troops and military families have made great sacrifices on our behalf, we must exercise extreme caution in undertaking military action.”
Third District Republican Rep. Tom Latham said the president hasn’t made the case for military engagement.
“I do not believe the United States should be injecting themselves in a civil war, which is a sectarian war, and I have not heard any kind of an end game or what the purpose is,” he said.
Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Sam Clovis, who spent 25 years in the Air Force, agreed Obama hasn’t laid out a convincing case.
“As it stands right now, there should be no military action in Syria by American forces,” Clovis said. However, he did not completely rule out supporting action against Syria.
“Military actions today need to be measured by the long-term consequences,” Clovis aid. “With that being said … and not knowing all of the intelligence that the president has access to, I would not authorize President Obama to use military force against Syria.”
Another GOP U.S. Senate hopeful, Paul Lunde, is opposed to authorizing the president “to fling costly cruise missiles into Syria” because the attacks “would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and probably would kill many people that we are attempting to help.”
Secretaries of Defense Chuck Hagel and State John Kerry and Joint Chiefs Chair Marin Dempsey will make the administration’s case for the use of force against Syria at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing at 1:30 p.m. It will be carried live by C-SPAN and C-SPAN Radio.
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