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Posted: 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013

Where YOUR Congressmen and Senators stand on Syria strike

By Matt Augustine and Stephanie Brown


With a debate and vote on a military strike in Syria to now take place in Congress next week, we’re finding out where the people who represent your voice on Capitol Hill stand.

Congresswoman Corrine Brown

Brown says she was leaning toward yes on military action against Syria and that she's glad to hear that the Russian proposal to have Syria turn its chemical weapons over to the international community for destruction.

"It did not have to get to this stage, 100,000 people didn't have to die," says Brown in an interview with WOKV.

Brown says the U.S. should still make sure that this proposal is the diplomatic solution that it appears to be an not just a stall tactic from the Russians. She hopes this proposal could lead to something more, like a ceasefire. She added she was surprised that President Obama took the debate to Congress because she says it doesn't seem like Congress can get anything done right now and this is an issue that needs action quickly.

Congressman Ander Crenshaw

“There’s no way to know what the reaction to a strike might be,” Crenshaw says.  “There are too many risks.”

He says he’s listened to his constituents from Northeast Florida, and they “overwhelmingly” oppose action in Syria.  He said about 90 percent are against it. Still, Crenshaw believes there is “strong evidence” that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime was involved with the chemical weapons attack on August 21.

“My point has always been: if this was a violation of the world’s red line, then where is the rest of the world?”

He believes if the U.S. takes military action in Syria, the country could end up in a situation “much worse” than if no action is taken at all.

“There’s no question that it would be very easy to see this escalate into some sort of literal war,” he says.

Rep. Crenshaw says if there are ways to deal with the situation diplomatically, then “we certainly should move in that direction.” But at this point, as far as authorizing military force, he says his answer is “no.”

Congressman Ted Yoho

Congressman Ted Yoho’s message on Syria is clear: the U.S. needs to explore diplomacy before considering a military strike.

“We’re attacking a sovereign nation that has not attacked us,” Yoho tells WOKV.

He says the Arab League needs to weigh in the conflict more than they have and put pressure on Syria

“This is something that’s in their backyard, and they need to have a stronger voice in this.”

Yoho says he doesn’t want to have to commit young American men and women to the conflict if it should come to that in the future, and most of his constituents in Northeast Florida agree.

According to Yoho, the international community has long agreed that countries shouldn’t use chemical weapons.  But they also agreed that countries are in violation of the agreement if they produce, transport or store them.

“North Korea has chemical weapons,” he says.  “Saddam Hussein had them.  He used them against the Kurds in the eighties.  Nothing was done at this point.  So my question is: Why now?  Why the U.S.?”

Congressman Ron DeSantis

Northeast Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis says he plans to vote against the resolution authorizing military force in Syria.

DeSantis said the showdown over Syria is the most one-sided issue he has seen in his time in Washington.

Here is the entire statement from Representative DeSantis:

“I do not support authorizing President Obama to use military force in the Syrian civil war at this time. The Obama administration has not articulated a clear objective for using military force in Syria, much less a plan to achieve that objective. This is all the more problematic given the realities of a Syrian civil war in which Assad’s dictatorship (supported by Iran and Hezbollah) is fighting so-called rebels that are populated with Sunni Islamic supremacists and Al Qaeda fighters. In other words, the United States does not have an interest in assisting either side of the conflict or in refereeing a civil war amongst these warring anti-American factions. Moreover, there is a danger that an ill-planned or half-hearted American attack could make it easier for terrorist groups to obtain the very type of chemical weapons that Al Qaeda and other groups have long sought to use against America.”

Senator Bill Nelson

Nelson says while he supports a strike, it’s hard to tell what will come from it.

“Every day that we face adversaries, there’s always the possibility of going in to a full-fledged war, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t protect our national security interests,” Nelson says.

He says he has met with the regime several times, and knows their capabilities. Further, he’s seen the evidence the US says it has proving the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its people- evidence which Nelson calls conclusive.

And knowing that, he says the US has to intervene.

“We are the only country in the world that has the military capacity to go in and enforce this,” he says.

Even with the risks of intervening, he says the risks of not acting would be even more harmful.

“What do you think that that would send as a message to other rogue nations?”

The only challenge in his view is getting members of Congress to look past their initial “knee-jerk reactions” against the war in favor of actually seeing the evidence in play. 

He thinks the President made a smart move allowing time to educate politicians and the public.

Senator Marco Rubio

Rubio is stopping just short of taking a stance.  A statement issued by Rubio’s office says the US should only look at military action when it is pursuing a “clear and attainable national security goal” and not “simply to send a message or save face”.  He does not directly comment on which of these standards he is currently judging the administration’s position to strike Syria.  He does, however, take it one step further in calling on Congress to return to Washington now to get the debate started. Congressional leadership, however, has signaled that will not be the case, and rather the debate will begin when lawmakers return to Washington next week.

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