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Congress Expresses Caution over President's Request

10:30 PM, Sep 1, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress in both parties said Sunday they would not be able to support the current draft of a resolution authorizing President Obama to launch a military strike against Syria, and top Democrats said it will have to be rewritten to limit the president's authority.

With conservative Republicans raising serious doubts about a military strike against Syria, Obama will need a strong vote of support from House Democrats to get the resolution through the House. But Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said the resolution submitted Saturday by the White House is "too broadly drafted" and that he cannot vote for "a partial blank check."

Van Hollen said the resolution would need a time limit on military action and some guarantees that American troops would not be sent into Syria before he could support it.

"The draft resolution presented by the administration does not currently meet that test," Van Hollen said. "it is too broadly drafted, it's too open ended."

The resolution Obama submitted Saturday said the president would be authorized to "use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate" to deter the use or proliferation of chemical weapons in Syria or to protect the U.S. and its allied from any chemical weapons threat.

After a classified briefing on Capitol Hill Sunday, several Members of Congress told reporters they were still skeptical of the value of U.S. military intervention.

Local Congressman Chris Collins (R), who also attended the bipartisan briefing in Washington, said he is convinced with a "high-level of confidence" that the Assad regime used poison gas against the rebels, and glad that the president is putting the decision to a congressional vote, but he is still not sure that a military strike is in the best interest of the United States.

"[Assad has] gone against the world's position on chemical weapons," Collins said.

He said that he will use the next week-and-a-half to gather more information about international support before deciding how he'll vote on the force authorization sought by the president.

"What's Israel's position? What is Jordan's position? What is Saudi Arabia's position? Those have not played out yet," Collins said. "At this point, I haven't made my mind on which way I'll go, because all the facts are not yet on the table."

Obama said Saturday he has decided that the United States should launch an attack on Syria in response to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons on opponents in a Damascus suburb Aug. 21.

Reed released this statement regarding his public availability:

"Reed will be available in person Tuesday at the following times and locations:

8:00AM           Big Flats Town Hall, 476 Maple St., Big Flats

10:00AM         Owego Town Hall, 2354 NYS Route 434, Owego

1:00PM           Geneva Fire Hall, 79 Geneva St., Geneva (public asked to use rear entrance)

"The President sent his resolution to Congress just yesterday. While this is short notice, I hope that people will be able to stop by," Reed said. "Of course all of our offices will continue to receive calls of those who cannot make one of the listening sessions."

Reed will conduct sessions in Hornell, Olean, and Dunkirk on Wednesday, with times and locations to be announced as soon as details are finalized. Constituents can also continue to email Rep. Reed at www.Reed.house.gov."

USA TODAY

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