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

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1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.

(More History)