Quantcast


House speaker agrees to back no-combat-troops-on-the-ground action

Last updated: September 03. 2013 11:57PM - 934 Views
BRADLEY KLAPPER and DAVID ESPO Associated Press



President Barack Obama speaks to media, as House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, looks to him in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday before a meeting with members of Congress to discuss the situation in Syria.
President Barack Obama speaks to media, as House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, looks to him in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday before a meeting with members of Congress to discuss the situation in Syria.
Story Tools:

Font Size:

Social Media:
More Info:

HOW THEY VOTED

How our local congressmen will vote on Syria issue:

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton: Yes. “Every day that Assad remains in power helps Iran and Hezbollah who plot against the United States and its allies.”

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville: Undecided

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic: Undecided.

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton: Undecided. “Before I make a final determination of my vote on military action against Syria, I want to review all of the facts, hear the strategy, and better understand the goal … I won’t be swayed by the public declarations of other members of Congress, rather I will listen to all of the facts and make my own decision.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Twp.: No. “The U.S. does not stand to gain from intervening in the Syrian Civil War and I will not vote to authorize the President to use military force at this time.”



WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama gained ground Tuesday in his drive for congressional backing of a military strike against Syria, winning critical support from House Speaker John Boehner while key Senate Democrats and Republicans agreed to back a no-combat-troops-on-the-ground action in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack.


Officials said the emerging Senate measure would receive a vote today in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Approval is likely.


“You’re probably going to win” Congress’ backing, Rand Paul of Kentucky, a conservative senator and likely opponent of the measure, conceded in a late-afternoon exchange with Secretary of State John Kerry.


The leader of House Republicans, Boehner emerged from a meeting at the White House and said the United States has “enemies around the world that need to understand that we’re not going to tolerate this type of behavior. We also have allies around the world and allies in the region who also need to know that America will be there and stand up when it’s necessary.”


Boehner spoke as lawmakers in both parties called for changes to the president’s requested legislation, insisting it be rewritten to restrict the type and duration of any military action.


In the Senate, the compromise was the work of Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., among others. They are the chairman and senior Republican, respectively, on the Foreign Relations Committee, which held a lengthy hearing during the day on Obama’s request for congressional legislation in support of the military reprisal he wants.


The measure would set a time limit of 60 days and says the president could extend that for 30 days more unless Congress has a vote of disapproval.


The measure also bars the use of U.S. ground troops for “combat operations.”


Kerry, testifying before the committee, signaled earlier that the troop restriction was acceptable to the administration. “There’s no problem in our having the language that has zero capacity for American troops on the ground,” he said.


“President Obama is not asking America to go to war,” Kerry said in a strongly worded opening statement. He added, “This is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter.”


Obama said earlier in the day he was open to revisions in the relatively broad request the White House made over the weekend. He expressed confidence Congress would respond to his call for support and said Assad’s action “poses a serious national security threat to the United States and to the region.”


The administration says 1,429 died from the attack on Aug. 21 in a Damascus suburb. Casualty estimates by other groups are far lower, and Assad’s government blames the episode on rebels who have been seeking to overthrow his government in a civil war that began over two years ago. A United Nations inspection team is awaiting lab results on tissue and soil samples it collected while in the country before completing a closely watched report.


The president met top lawmakers at the White House before embarking on an overseas trip to Sweden and Russia, leaving the principal lobbying at home for the next few days to Vice President Joe Biden and other members of his administration.


Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sat shoulder-to-shoulder at the Senate committee hearing while, a few hundred miles away, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged caution. He said any punitive action against Syria could unleash more turmoil and bloodshed, and he advised that such strikes would be legal only in self-defense under the U.N. Charter or if approved by the organization’s Security Council. Russia and China have repeatedly used their veto power in the council to block action against Assad.


In the Middle East, Israel and the U.S. conducted a joint missile test over the Mediterranean in a display of military might in the region.


Obama set the fast-paced events in motion on Saturday, when he unexpectedly stepped back from ordering a military strike under his own authority and announced he would seek congressional approval.


Recent presidents have all claimed the authority to undertake limited military action without congressional backing. Some have followed up with such action.


Obama said he, too, believes he has that authority, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said during the day that even Congress’ refusal to authorize the president wouldn’t negate the power of the commander in chief.


Still, the president also has stated that the United States will be stronger if lawmakers grant their support. But neither Obama nor his aides has been willing to state what options would be left to him should Congress reject his call.


As Obama has often noted, the country is weary of war after more than a decade of combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, and there is residual skepticism a decade after Bush administration claims went unproven that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Additionally, a spate of polls indicates the public opposes a military strike against Syria, by a margin of 59-36 percent if the United States acts unilaterally, according to a new Washington Post-ABC survey, and a narrower 46-51 if allies take part.


Among major allies, only France has publicly offered to join the United States in a strike, although President Francois Hollande says he will await Congress’ decision. The British House of Commons rejected a military strike last week.


Yet the president’s decision to seek congressional approval presents lawmakers with a challenge, as well.


Even some of Obama’s sternest critics in Congress expressed strong concerns about the repercussions of a failure to act.


House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, R-Va., said after Tuesday’s White House meeting that a failure to respond to the use of chemical weapons “only increases the likelihood of future WMD (weapons of mass destruction) use by the regime, transfer to Hezbollah, or acquisition by al-Qaida.”


America’s largest pro-Israel organization, AIPAC, also announced its support for legislation to authorize a military strike.


Apart from the meeting with Obama, the White House provided closed-door briefings for members of Congress.


Comments
All user comments are subject to our Terms of Service. Users may flag inappropriate comments.
comments powered by Disqus



Featured Businesses


Poll



Info Minute



Gas Prices

Wilkes-Barre Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com