Over the weekend, President Barack Obama announced he would seek congressional approval before taking action in Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians. Several Minnesota lawmakers welcomed that decision.
Accusing the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad of using sarin gas in an attack that killed nearly 1,500 near Damascus, Obama said he believes military action should be taken; however, getting the green light from Congress could take weeks.
Several Minnesota lawmakers released statements about the decision over the weekend. They can be found unedited below.
SEN. AL FRANKEN
"There are no good options on Syria. But as I've said, the use of chemical weapons to kill over a thousand people and injure many more is a horrendous act, and there have to be consequences for that. Whatever action the United States takes, it has to be limited action. This can't be an open-ended commitment, and it definitely should not lead to American boots on the ground. Congress now has an important role to play, and I look forward to participating in a vigorous debate about the use of force and the best interests of our country."
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR
"The President is right to consult with Congress and obtain approval before taking military action in Syria. The decision to allow Congress to debate will give us the ability to carefully consider the evidence and consult with military officials before making a decision. I believe the current draft of the resolution is too broad and I continue to strongly believe that we should not have American troops on the ground in Syria. I also urge the President to continue to work with our international allies."
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN
"The prospect of military intervention in Syria demands a robust public debate, and President Obama made the correct constitutional decision to seek congressional authorization for the use of military force.
I am adamantly opposed to President Obama starting another war in the Middle East and plan to vote against military intervention in Syria. We have bad actors and bad options on both sides in Syria, with many of the rebels working with al Qaeda-affiliated groups.
The fruit of President Obama's failed foreign policy has contributed to the chaos and instability in Libya and Egypt, all the while distracting from the essential threat in the Middle East: the specter of a nuclear Iran.
President Obama has not demonstrated a vital American national security interest in the conflict in Syria or a clear strategy outlining what the use of force would accomplish. The American people do not support a military intervention and I cannot vote for one."
REP. KEITH ELLISON
"The Assad regime's horrific gassing of innocent civilians through the use of chemical weapons has precipitated a deepening crisis in Syria. Unfortunately there are no sure strategies for the international community to stop or reduce the violence being perpetrated by Assad. Despite the lack of good options, the United States should work with its international partners to develop a strategy to degrade or deter the Syrian military's ability to commit more chemical weapons attacks against women and children. President Obama is right to seek authorization from Congress before a strike against the Assad regime.
"My longstanding foreign policy perspective is to oppose war and favor diplomacy over military action. I share Americans' concerns about the dangers and risks of interventions – even if short-lived and targeted. I agree with our military leaders and other foreign policy experts who say we must have clear objectives and avoid mission creep. To be clear, I do not support U.S. boots on the ground. But with more than 100,000 people dead and last week's criminal massacre in Damascus, nations with the power to act have a responsibility to enforce international norms that murderous dictators will face consequences when they commit crimes against humanity.
"To repeat, the crisis in Syria leaves policymakers with few good options, including inaction. As Secretary Kerry said, there is no "military solution" to the crisis in Syria, but we must consider whether limited military action will reduce Assad's capacity to kill more innocents. Congress will now have a chance to examine the facts, debate the strategy and vote on a way forward.
"To its great credit, the international community has repeatedly tried to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict, and those efforts must continue. While I have deep concerns about military action of any kind, the international community must respond when chemical weapons are used against innocent civilians."
REP. JOHN KLINE
"The horrific acts by the Bashar Assad regime of using chemical weapons to kill citizens including children is anathema and unacceptable in our country and around the world. While I am disappointed the President put the U.S. in a difficult position by publicly using a ‘red line' with Syria, America's credibility is now in question and the world is watching. I am pleased the President is reaching out to Congress, but he must make the case to the American people and provide a clear and concise plan to stop Assad and warn others this type of behavior will not be tolerated."
REP. BETTY MCCOLLUM
"The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime must be considered a crime against humanity. President Assad and his generals need to be brought to justice for this atrocity – preferably by the International Criminal Court.
The U.S. response to the deteriorating situation in Syria must be coordinated with allies and the Arab League. The Obama administration and the international community must increase pressure on Russia and China to join in the condemnation of the Assad regime, end all shipments of weapons to Syria, and enlist their cooperation to work as part of the international effort to end the killing.
Now is the time for measures that will bring strategic pressure to prevent an escalation of the conflict, rather than add to the wanton violence of a situation already out of control. Unilateral U.S. military action against the Syrian regime at this time would do nothing to advance American interests, but would certainly fuel extremists groups on both sides of the conflict that are determined to expand the bloodshed beyond Syria's borders."
REP. RICK NOLAN
Rep. Rick Nolan had previously voiced his reluctance to accept military intervention in Syria, but after a briefing in Washington, he issued a second statement to say he was even more resolute against an American strike.
"I will vote and work against President Obama's request for open-ended authority to launch military strikes against the Syrian army.
"After a three-hour classified briefing, and taking time to read all the classified documents, what I have heard and read has only served to convince me more than ever of the folly and danger of getting America involved in the Syrian civil war.
"Clearly the Syrian people have been tragic victims of both chemical and conventional weapons, but the evidence of who bears responsibility is sketchy and conflicting at best. Even Secretary Kerry cites ‘high confidence,' not hard evidence, as the justification for launching a military attack. ‘High confidence' is not enough to justify the high risks of getting America engaged in another war of choice in the Middle East. It is precisely the same kind of circumstantial evidence regarding weapons of mass destruction that got us into the war in Iraq.
"With thousands of bombs exploding daily in Syria, it is certainly possible a chemical depot was hit and chemical weapons disbursed in the conflict. With the Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels in possession of chemical weapons, it is also possible they were responsible for the chemical attacks as a way to draw the U.S. into the conflict to the benefit to the rebel forces. And last but not least, it is possible that Assad or a rogue element in the Syrian Army was responsible.
"If it can be determined with absolute and irrefutable certainty that Assad is responsible, he should be charged and tried in an international court of law.
"One thing we do know is that Assad had nothing to gain and everything to lose by launching a chemical attack. The hard fact is, we have no friends in this conflict. It is a struggle that has gone on for centuries. What is clear is that an attack by us will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, kill hundreds of people, prolong and expand the conflict, result in some form of retaliatory attack – including a possible attack on our only reliable ally in the region, Israel -- and put in high place the risk of drawing America into a another war in the Middle East.
"We have all heard the political supporters of an attack on Syria say they are against boots on the ground. However, they ignore the reality that military attacks result in retaliation and an escalating conflict which all too often results in new circumstances leading those same people to justify, you guessed it, boots on the ground."
Read Nolan's first statement here: http://1.usa.gov/17Bp1rk
REP. ERIC PAULSEN
"I believe the president's request for military action in Syria is too broad, too open-ended, too risky and does not identify a clear U.S. national interest for military engagement and putting U.S. troops in harm's way."
REP. COLLIN PETERSON
"What's going on in Syria is deplorable, but at this point, I don't see how U.S. military action will accomplish anything toward ending the turmoil over there or helping the people of Syria which is my main concern. Along with my constituents, I am opposed to intervention. I am willing to listen to the President and others, but I haven't heard anything at this point that will change my mind."
REP. TIM WALZ
"I appreciate the Administration providing the informative briefing on the situation in Syria today. As I've said from the beginning, the use of chemical weapons is despicable and there is a moral responsibility to defend the defenseless, but we cannot rush into this decision. I look forward to hearing from southern Minnesotans and debating this issue with my colleagues in Congress to make sure the national security of our nation is paramount."