Local lawmakers want voice in Syria action

Originally Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2013, 11:47 pm
Last Updated: Aug. 30, 2013, 11:48 pm
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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

Several Quad-Cities area Senators and Congressmen are calling on President Barack Obama to hit the pause button on any plans to take military action against Syria to allow Congress time to consider what course of action should be taken.

The alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad's regime last week crossed a "red line" set by President Obama, and the White House is now considering taking limited military action against the Syrian government.

Syria has been locked in brutal civil war since 2011 that has led to 100,000 deaths, according to the United Nations.

Secretary of State John Kerry said this week the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical attack near Damascus last week that killed 1,400 people. U.N. inspectors have yet to complete their investigation.

A number of Congressmen in the Quad-Cities region said Friday that President Obama should proceed with caution on Syria and consult Congress before taking any action.

"We must exercise extreme caution in undertaking military action," said Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon. "Congress has a constitutional role to play in approving use of military force, and any action must be fully debated and considered."

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, said military action should be a last resort, and Congress should be consulted first.

"I'm encouraged that inspection efforts are moving forward and hope that any use of force is a very last resort," Rep. Bustos said. "If the Administration believes that action against Syria is necessary, consultation with Congress before issuing any orders is not only warranted, but lawful."

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, has signed a bipartisan letter with other congressmen that "strongly urges" President Obama "to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of US military force in Syria."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said that Congress "hasan important part in reflecting the concerns and views of Americans and should convene to discuss Syria and the role and response of the United States."

"I want to know what the goal of the military strike is, how civilian casualties will be avoided, what the strategic plan is and how we will know if the effort was successful," Sen. Grassley said.

In an interview with a Chicago radio station, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., raised concerns about the rebels fighting the Assad regime, some of whom are linked to al-Qaeda.

"I, for one, want to be careful," Sen Durbin said. "It's a lot easier to get in a war than to get out of one."

Speaking at the Rock Island Arsenal on Monday, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., was not as cautious in his call for action against Syria as many of his colleagues.

"I would advise a cruise missile attack where no boots are on the ground, and if it's a cruise missile fired by the United States Navy it will hit what it was intended to hit," Sen. Kirk said.

The Constitution grants Congress the sole power to declare war.

TheWar Powers Resolution of 1973 requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of sending armed forces into military action.

It was passed after President Lyndon Johnson went to war in Vietnam without getting a congressional declaration of war.

The law forbids the military from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war.


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 1, the 244th day of 2014. There are 121 days left in the year.

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1889 -- 125 years ago: Bonnie McGregor, a fleet-footed stallion owned by S.W. Wheelock of this community, covered himself with glory at Lexington, Ky, when he ran a mile in 2:13 1/2. The horse's value was estimated as at least $50,000.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Troops are pouring into Paris to prepare for defense of the city. The German army is reported to be only 60 miles from the capital of France.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The German army has invaded Poland in undeclared warfare. Poland has appealed to Great Britain and France for aid.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Publication of a plant newspaper, the Farmall Works News, has been launched at the Rock Island IHC factory and replaces a managerial newsletter.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Officials predict Monday's Rock Island Labor Parade will be the biggest and best ever. Last minute work continues on floats and costumes for the parade, which steps off a 9:30 a.m.

(More History)