Area delegation welcomes Congressional debate on military action in Syria
NORTHAMPTON — Members of the region’s congressional delegation welcomed a decision by President Barack Obama to seek lawmakers’ approval before launching a military strike against Syria, citing the complexities of the situation in the Middle East and the need for more detailed evidence of chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who was in Washington, D.C., Sunday to attend a classified briefing on Syria, said the president was right to bring the matter to Congress.
“We should engage in a serious debate to determine the appropriate U.S. response to the situation in Syria,” Warren said in a statement released Saturday in the wake of Obama’s decision.
“The Assad regime’s actions are reprehensible, but it is critical that we recognize the complexity of the conflict on the ground and that we consider the potential for unintended consequences of U.S. intervention, no matter how good our intentions,” she said.
Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., also cited the need for a full debate in Congress about the use of force in Syria. While Markey said the use of chemical weapons “appears to be the work of a brutal dictator who has quashed dissent and killed innocent men, women and children,” he warned that “the aftermath of a U.S. strike on targets in Syria is difficult to predict, with negative consequences that may be beyond our capability to control.
“That’s why I am looking forward to a thorough, detailed debate that hears all sides,” Markey said in a statement.
In addition to a discussion in Congress, “we need international backing, and we need detailed, complete evidence presented before deciding whether our country should take action in Syria,” Markey said.
U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., said he also wants more evidence that the Assad regime used chemical weapons on its people.
“I want to see if the U.N. inspectors conclude that chemical weapons were used to attack and kill innocent civilians,” Neal said in a statement emailed to the Gazette.
Citing his vote against the war in Iraq, Neal said that “while Syria needs to be held accountable for its outrageous behavior, I strongly believe that every diplomatic option ought to be exhausted before the United States and its international partners contemplate any military action in the region.”
U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Mass., could not be reached for comment Sunday. McGovern was one of 60 members of Congress who signed a letter to Obama late last week, condemning the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria and calling for a full congressional debate on the U.S. response.
“While we understand that as Commander in Chief you have a constitutional obligation to protect our national interests from direct attack, Congress has the constitutional obligation and power to approve military force,” the letter stated.
The full text is available on U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee’s website: http://lee.house.gov.