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September 3, 2013 at 11:37 AM
WASHINGTON — The Washington Post is counting U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene as among 19 House Democrats who are leaning against U.S. military action against Syria. But a spokesman for the Medina freshman said Tuesday DelBene’s position is more accurately “undecided.”
“She wants more information from the administration and to hear more constituent input as the debate occurs over the coming days,” said the spokesman, Viet Shelton.
DelBene’s wait-and-see attitude puts her in company with the biggest bloc of members of Congress. Only about three dozen lawmakers out of 535 in the Senate and the House have come out in support of President Obama’s call for “limited and targeted” military strikes against the Syrian regime. No member from Washington state is in that group.
Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington, for instance, remain uncommitted on military action.
Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, on the other hand, has made clear he sees no American interests at stake. But he said the president should be free to proceed with the strikes if he wins congressional approval.
Secretary of State John Kerry, however, has said the administration could act even without such support.
Rep. Adam Smith of Bellevue, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, supports arming Syrian rebels, but is deeply concerned about direct military action.
Two other members of that committee from Washington, Reps. Rick Larsen of Everett and Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor, say they are studying intelligence and will make their decisions afterward.
August 28, 2013 at 9:36 AM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Bellevue on Wednesday called for supplying arms and humanitarian aid to Syrian opposition forces in response to last week’s apparent chemical attacks on civilians blamed on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
But Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Service Committee, remains unconvinced that military action by the United States and other western forces would do much while exacting long-term costs and putting “our troops in harm’s way.”
Smith issued his statement after visiting Syrian refugees at the Jordanian border. President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to ready for possible missile strikes by U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean.
“To be clear, I am not calling for an open-ended commitment to remove the Assad regime, but that does not mean we cannot act in a way that is consistent with our interests and values,” Smith said. “Simply lashing out with military force under the banner of “doing something” will not secure our interests in Syria.”
Smith has long been reluctant to get the United States involved in Syria, even on humanitarian grounds.
“Do we say if there is suffering anywhere we as the United States of America have a responsibility to try and fix it? ‘No,’ is the answer to that question, because it’s a challenge we can’t possibly meet,” Smith said in a March 2012 interview with Foreign Policy magazine.
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