Local lawmakers divided on Syria response

President Obama seeking Congressional approval for military strike on Syria

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Calling Syria's gas attack on its own people an assault on human dignity and a danger to our national security, President Barack Obama continued making his case to strike the middle-eastern nation.

On Saturday, the president announced he would wait for Congressional approval of military action, and met Monday with Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham.

After the meeting McCain said he needs to hear more details about the president's strategy before a decision can be made.

"I think it's encouraging, but we have to have concrete plans. We have to have concrete details. And we have to be assured that this is a dramatic difference from the last two years of a policy of neglect... which has led to the deaths of 100,000 people, a million refugees.... excuse me, a million children of refugees, and a spreading of this conflict to the region," McCain said.

Lawmakers nationally and locally are divided on whether to take military action, some saying evidence of the Syrian government having launched a chemical weapons attack on its own people is inconclusive, but most support the president's decision to seek Congressional approval.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, like McCain, was waiting for more specifics before making a decision.

"The United States should only engage militarily when it is pursuing a clear and attainable national security goal," Rubio said in a statement. "Military action taken simply to send a message or save face does not meet that standard."

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is not only backing the president, he thinks we respond without delay.

"I support the president's decision, but as far as I'm concerned, we should strike in Syria today," Nelson said in a statement. "The use of chemical weapons was inhumane, and those responsible should be forced to suffer the consequences."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown says she was on conference calls all day Monday and hopes to have a briefing about Syria when she returns to Washington, but she is prepared to back the president.

"Here we have proof. We see hundreds of people being killed. When do we respond?" Brown said. "It is so sad. I think we should take it to the U.N. and the world community. We should not go it alone."

Jacksonville U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw agrees with other Republicans, wanting more details before taking action.

"Using chemical weapons against the innocent is not tolerable on any level," Crenshaw said. "Aside from consulting with Congress, President Obama must also explain his rationale on any action directly to the citizens of this country, underscoring what's at stake and why action is necessary."

Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville who represents the district that North Central Florida, issued a statement after Obama's call for Congressional support of a strike saying his constituents are asking him not to be get involved in Syria.

"I firmly believe that the United States should not intervene in the civil war unfolding in Syria," Yoho said.

Staff for Congressmen Ron DeSantis said they would be sending statements on his response.  This article will be updated when that become available.

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