SYRIA

South Fla. lawmakers react with mixed opinions on President Barack Obama’s remarks about Syria

 

gsolis@MiamiHerald.com

South Florida lawmakers had mixed reactions to President Obama’s remarks about Syria and his decision to seek congressional approval for any potential strike. Here are the opinions of South Florida’s congressional delegation.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who took part in a briefing by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued the following statement:

“The president wants to put to rest any doubt the American people may have. I support the president’s decision. But as far as I’m concerned, we should strike in Syria today. The use of chemical weapons was inhumane, and those responsible should be forced to suffer the consequences.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

“I agree with the decision to seek Congressional approval before taking military action in Syria. And I believe Congress should return to Washington immediately and begin to debate this issue. The United States should only engage militarily when it is pursuing a clear and attainable national security goal. Military action taken simply to send a message or save face does not meet that standard.”

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Miramar

“I thought he was particularly brilliant (in seeking Congressional approval). He did what is constitutionally correct.”

"I will review every line [of the classified intelligence report] and then when we vote, if it is as the president says it is, I will vote in favor of authorization."

But he said if he suspects there is something amiss with the intelligence report, like he did with the WMD claims in Iraq, he will vote against authorization. He voted against military action in 2002.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston

“I welcome President Obama’s announcement today that he would seek Congressional authorization for the use of force against the Assad regime in Syria. The President’s announcement follows multiple consultations and briefings with Members of Congress during the past week about the best course of action following evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons to murder its own people, including hundreds of children.

“As a member of the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, I welcome the President’s decision to ask Congress for approval of his proposal for a limited strike against Syria. This debate will help make our country stronger and ensure that we are united in a course of action.”

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami

“The many gaps in his short and insufficient statement include what the military objective would be, what effect it would have in the outcome of the Syrian conflict, and what steps are being taken to protect our allies in the region.

“As I previously stated, while I would like to wholeheartedly support our Commander-in-Chief in the event of military action in Syria, any use of force must be purposeful, overwhelming, and in furtherance of specifically enumerated national security interests. Unfortunately, the President has failed to provide a coherent policy on Syria to date. His poorly conceived ‘red line’ unnecessarily leveraged U.S. credibility, and placed him in the regrettable position of either following through on the promised retaliation or confirming that his threat was a hollow one.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

Did not respond to request Saturday from Miami Herald for comment, but she issued this letter on Aug. 30 to constituents.

“The President must show Congress and the American public that he understands the potential consequences for our national security interests and of our allies; that he understands all of the possible effects any action in Syria may have across the region, and what may happen in Syria as a result of United States action — with Assad, al-Qaeda, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia.

“There is no easy option. But I believe that we cannot simply allow Assad to continue this unthinkable brutality against his own people. We must understand that any action, and even inaction, has the potential to bear dangerous results — for Syria, for the region, for our allies and for the United States.

The President must show to the American people and to Congress that he fully understands all the implications of his actions in the coming days, and clearly state his objectives and the U.S. interests at stake.”

Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Miami

"Congressman Garcia condemns the repeated use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government against its own people as an appalling violation of international law and human rights. He believes that the United States and the international community must stand united in ensuring those responsible are held accountable for these atrocities. The Obama Administration should work closely with Congress in weighing the best course of action. Congressman Garcia understands that any military action can have unintended and serious consequences for American servicemen and women, our allies, as well as for millions of Syrians. These actions must be considered carefully and Congressman Garcia will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Boca Raton (statement earlier this week)

She did not respond to a request Saturday for comment from the Miami Herald, but issued the following statement on Aug. 27.

“The situation in Syria is an unimaginable tragedy. The cruelty of chemical weapons attacks is one more extraordinary deplorable aspect in a conflict that has taken over 100,000 Syrian lives. For the United States, there are no good options. While I do not support troops on the ground in Syria, we must continue to support the most vulnerable victims of the conflict through sustained humanitarian assistance. As we determine the most strategic option moving forward, we should work with our international allies to ensure that any direct engagement has a clearly defined purpose and be cognizant of potential negative consequences.”

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami

"It was the right decision. I think the American people want their elected officials to have a vote. My concern is what would the retaliation be and would it affect neighboring countries ... I will be asking, ’who is the opposition?’ If Assad is the enemy, who is the friend?”

“I’m not a hawk and I will do anything that I can to keep our nation from going to war. It is my hope that we will not go to war.”

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