Local politicians return from Syria talks in DC
September 2, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- President Obama is seeking congressional approval for military strikes against Syria and many Illinois congressional representatives are concerned about committing United States military might to the crisis in Syria.
Many lawmakers support action as long as it doesn't mean ground troops. President Obama has the authority to act alone, but decided to seek approval from Congress. House and Senate leaders are not taking any action until they go back in session next week.
The White House will use that time to build more support on Capitol Hill.
First term Congressman Brad Schneider is back in Chicago after attending a classified briefing on Syria Sunday in Washington. The North Shore lawmaker calls the vote authorizing limited military strikes against the Middle Eastern country the most difficult decision he has been faced with since Schneider was elected.
"I would not support anything that support boots on the ground," Schneider said. "I don't think we should get involved in the Syrian conflict between the sides, but we do need to hold the Assad regime accountable."
Accountable for what Schneider and many in Congress say is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's regime attacked his own people with chemical weapons. President Obama is asking Congress to approve some type of military action.
"There are many people in Congress, including myself, who would like to see a more restricted scope in terms of military action before approving this," said Congressman Bill Foster of the 11th District.
Foster, who also attended Sunday's briefing, believes Congress will eventually approve something, but he and others say the debate has a long way to go before a vote.
Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk and other Republicans say the White House must have a specific plan or strategy before Congress takes action.
"We should narrowly design with no boots on the ground, I don't think this country wants a wider Middle Eastern war," Kirk said.
Many Americans do not support war, although similar to the lawmakers who represent them, many believe the United States should not let the Syrian president off the hook.
"We need to figure something out in a way to sanction to provide awareness governments can't kill their people," said Vito Spinele.
"I think we should have more info and a plan, but something needs to be done," Holly Christian said.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lyndsay Graham are also calling on the White House for a specific plan. Both senators met with President Obama Monday.
After the meeting, McCain and Graham said they have more confidence that the administration is developing a better strategy, but the senators say the president has more work to do before congress signs off on it.
local, sarah schulte
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