Hagan, a member of the Senate Armed Services committee, said she would have a classified briefing on Wednesday with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Other briefings and hearings are planned this week and early next week before the votes.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Tuesday said he would vote in favor and urged others to do the same. Majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., also said he’d vote to for the option to use force.
“America has a compelling national security interest to prevent and respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially by a terrorist state such as Syria, and to prevent further instability in a region of vital interest to the United States,” Cantor said.
Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat from Lumberton and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, tweeted on Tuesday with a link to his views of the key question.
As Congress debates, “the important question to be answered is whether our involvement in a foreign country’s civil war meets the threshold of endangering our own national security,” McIntyre said.
Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Republican from Charlotte, was traveling from Tokyo to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday. Pittenger is chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. Pittenger has said he would not support “an open-ended or ambiguous plan.”
“There are no good actors in the Syrian civil war, and the United States must be very careful not to become entangled in this internal conflict,” he said. “However, we should all be concerned by Syria’s substantial stockpile of chemical weapons and the risk these weapons could fall into the hands of al Qaida, Hezbollah or Hamas and used to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans.”
Pittenger’s trip, which was arranged earlier, included much discussion about how to deal with Syria, said spokesman Jamie Bowers. Pittenger will go on to Cairo and NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Rep. David Price, a Democrat from Chapel Hill, said in a statement that the use of chemical weapons against civilians demands a response. He said he would insist that the resolution is about limited retaliation “and not a prelude to American boots on the ground.”
Rep. Mel Watt, D-Charlotte, said in an interview that he hadn’t decided how he’d vote. He said there was enough information to conclude that the Assad regime used the chemical weapons.
“So it’s just a question of whether and how you respond and how you tailor it in such a way to deter future acts of this kind and not get into a full-fledged war, which I think would be a mistake,” Watt said.
Spokesmen for Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield and Republicans Richard Hudson and Mark Meadows on Tuesday said it was too early for them to say how they would vote.