Members of Congress are split on Syria, and strangely, the rift doesn’t fall along the usual party lines.
On Saturday, President Obama said that the U.S. should take some military action in Syria to send a message to the world that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. Despite his resolve, he pledged to wait for Congress’ approval before issuing a strike.
On Sunday, lawmakers were divided over whether to intervene in the war torn country. Supporters say that Syria should be punished for its use of chemical weapons while opponents favor diplomacy and cite wide unwillingness to get involved in yet another war.
Though normally the issue of military intervention is neatly divided along party lines, the Congress split over Syria is not a partisan issue, notes CNN.
“Party does not have anything to do with this,” said Republican Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia. “I really believe that. Maybe that’s some American idealism coming out of me, but I’ve not heard one member of my Republican conference mention anything about partisanship here.”
Rep. Adam Smith, a top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said that while arguments for a strike on Syria are “compelling,” he hasn’t decided whether he’ll vote “yes” or “no” yet. Rep. Eliot Engel, another Democrat, branded Assad a “thug,” arguing, “we need to stand up and clearly say this is unacceptable.”
John McCain favors military intervention, but said that he’d like to see a comprehensive attack plan “rather than just launching cruise missiles and that’s it” before he votes “yes.”
Republican Rep. Mike Rogers argued that the Syria conflict is a “national security issue,” and that the threat posed by Syria is beyond party lines. “This isn’t about Barack Obama versus the Congress. This isn’t about Republicans against Democrats. This has a very important worldwide reach,” he said.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Peter King has criticized President Obama of sending “mixed signals” on the issue, and branding his decision to seek Congressional approval a “clear failure of leadership.”
“If you feel so strongly about it and if he doesn’t want to take the action himself then he should call us back into session tomorrow,” King declared boldly.
Republican Senator Rand Paul applauded President Obama for seeking Congress’ help, but doesn’t think military intervention is the right thing to do. “I think the war may escalate out of control and then we have to ask ourselves, who is on America’s side over there,” Paul said. “If the rebels win will they be America’s ally?”
With Congress split on Syria, it doesn’t seem likely that there will be a decision on the issue any time soon.