Kentuckiana legislators weigh in on Syrian conflict - News, Weather & Sports

Kentuckiana legislators weigh in on Syrian conflict

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY 3rd) Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY 3rd)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) talks with reporters about the conflict in Syria. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) talks with reporters about the conflict in Syria.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Senate panel has voted to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack. The vote Wednesday was 10-7, with one senator voting present. The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week.           

The resolution would permit President Obama to order a limited military mission against Syria, as long as it doesn't exceed 90 days and involves no American troops on the ground for combat operations. The vote marked the first time lawmakers have voted to authorize military action since the October 2002 votes giving President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq. 

WAVE 3 News reached out to several Kentucky and Indiana legislators to get their stance on the crisis in Syria. Lawmakers admit what's going on in Syria is difficult to see and there isn't a simple answer on what needs to be done. 

"These are very tough issues," said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY 3). "There are no good answers in Syria." 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been leading the debate against bombing Syria. Paul, who has made his beliefs known to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke to reporters on Wednesday.  

"I don't see a clear cut or compelling U.S. interest," said Paul. "I see a horrible tragedy, but I don't see that our involvement will lessen the tragedy it may well make the tragedy worse." 

Yarmuth said the decision isn't political. 

"At this point the administration has a lot of work to do to get my vote," said Yarmuth. "I'm not yet convinced that what's happened in Syria as deplorable as it is, is a direct threat to our national security. I have very serious concerns about our lack of support from the international community." 

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said: "I appreciate the President's briefing today at the White House and would encourage him to continue updating the American people. While we are learning more about his plans, Congress and our constituents would all benefit from knowing more about what it is he thinks needs to be done-and can be accomplished-in Syria and the region." 

The following are statements released by other federal legislators from Kentucky and Indiana. 

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY 4): "I am vehemently opposed to U.S. military involvement in Syria. In June, I introduced HR 2507, the War Powers Protection Act of 2013, to block unauthorized U.S. military and paramilitary involvement in Syria. Since our national security interests in Syria are unclear, and because Syria poses no imminent threat, I plan to vote against authorizing the use of military force in Syria." 

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN): "As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I am following the situation very closely. I support President Obama's decision to seek Congressional approval. Like all Hoosiers, I strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons and am carefully reviewing proposed options for ongoing humanitarian assistance and possible military action. I was in Washington on Sunday and Wednesday for classified briefings and look forward to the debate." 

Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN): "The president's decision to set a 'red line' with Syria while failing to have a long-term strategy in place unfortunately has left the U.S. without any good options. I am pleased, however, that President Obama is seeking authorization from Congress for potential military action in Syria so the American people can have a voice in this debate. I am traveling across Indiana to hear from Hoosiers so I can take their views back to Washington. I will continue to urge the administration to work with our friends and allies on a comprehensive strategy to address the broader challenges throughout the region." 

Rep. Todd Young (R-IN 9): "I respect and welcome the President's decision to ask Congress for authorization of military action in Syria. I hope this is more than a symbolic gesture, and that the administration actively engages us throughout the process because many questions remain unanswered. Have we utilized all instruments of national power, and exhausted all other options? What is our long term strategy in the Middle East, and do we even have a coherent doctrine for the region? Will Syria use chemical weapons again regardless of whether or not we attack? These are just some of the questions that need to be worked through as President Obama tries to persuade a skeptical Congress and American public. 

The measure now goes to the full Senate for debate next week. The Democratic-led chamber is expected to pass it, but the outcome is less clear in the Republican-led House where top diplomatic and military officials made their case on Wednesday for action.

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