Key GOP support promised on Syria; NH congressional delegation deciding
President Barack Obama won the backing of key Congressional figures, including Republicans, in his call for limited U.S. strikes on Syria, but three members of the New Hampshire delegation remain undecided and one is opposed.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday approved a resolution authorizing a limited U.S. military intervention in Syria, setting the stage for a debate in the full Senate next week on the use of military force.
The committee voted 10-7 in favor of a compromise resolution that sets a 60-day limit on any engagement in Syria and bars the use of U.S. troops on the ground for combat operations.
Having delayed until Congress reconvenes a punitive attack on President Bashar al-Assad for his suspected use of chemical weapons, Obama met congressional leaders at the White House Tuesday to urge a prompt decision and assure them it did not mean another long war like Iraq or Afghanistan.
After the meeting, House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor both pledged their support for military action. Votes are expected to be held in the Senate and House next week.
"I believe that my colleagues should support this call for action," Boehner told reporters.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte said Tuesday she hadn't decided whether to back military strikes, but said the use of chemical weapons should be met with "some kind of response."
"We need to accomplish something and degrade ... the person who used the chemical weapons," the Republican said in talking with workers at Titeflex, an aerospace company in Laconia.
"Make sure we're having an impact," said Ayotte, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Otherwise, I do not think that American military action should be used just to send a shot across the bow. There has to be a purpose, an accomplishment, an objective and I want to hear what that is."
Spokesmen for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Ann Kuster said they are undecided on whether they will support Obama's proposed resolution.
"If we stand quietly aside while Assad uses chemical weapons, we will seriously hurt our own national security interests and signal to other tyrannical regimes around the world, like Iran and North Korea, that they can use weapons of mass destruction without consequence," Shaheen, a Democrat, said in a statement. "The question now, however, is how we respond. We must determine the best way to make clear that it is unacceptable to use weapons of mass destruction while also protecting our country from becoming mired in a civil war."
Democratic Congresswoman Kuster said in a statement: "I continue to have grave concerns about the proposed use of military force in Syria. While the international community must hold Assad accountable, I am concerned that U.S. military intervention could have unintended consequences in the region."
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said she opposes military action.
"I am not against all war, but in order to justify this act, there has to be a threat to national security, a strong strategy, and a good possibility of success," the Democrat said in a written statement. "At this moment, I do not believe the situation in Syria meets these criteria, and I fear that the United States could be drawn into a lengthy and deadly conflict."
Call for prayer, fasting
Bishop Peter A. Libasci is asking the people of the Diocese of Manchester to join Pope Francis Saturday in fasting and praying for peace in Syria.
In a statement on the diocese website, the Bishop noted, "we are also praying and hoping for the release of one of our own, journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H, who disappeared in northwest Syria on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012."