Congressional Quotes Against Military Intervention in Syria, Part I

Statements by Members of Congress Opposing Military Intervention


Sen. Alexander (R-TN)- “I’m concerned about the consequences of a military strike in Syria, and what happens with step 2, 3 and 4 after that.” [09/01/13]

Sen. Barrasso (R-WY)- “Like most folks back home, I am concerned about the Administration’s willingness to commit to military action without providing an ultimate objective and an overall strategic plan in Syria. There is nothing of more consequence to me as a U.S. Senator than a vote on whether or not to involve American military forces, and so far I believe the Administration has failed to present a strategy that justifies this action.” [09/04/13]

Sen. Boozman (D-AR)- “Military force should be used only if there is an achievable purpose and outcome.  A unilateral U.S. strike as punishment solely for using chemical weapons is unlikely to discourage the Assad regime from continuing to slaughter its own people.  Without a clear-cut U.S. policy and end game, such a limited strike would only succeed in the escalation of the crisis.” [09/05/13]

Sen. Begich (D-AK)- “In Syria, I don’t want to see American troops on the ground. We’re just coming out of two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever response there is, it has to be an international response, which includes China, it includes Russia… but we can’t be putting American troops on the ground again in another war.” [08/29/13]

Sen. Blunt (R-MO)- “It’s clear the administration’s policies have not worked. The president is the one who drew the so-called red line. And if the response isn’t adequate, we run the risk of sending the wrong message to the region – particularly to Iran. Troops on the ground would be a mistake, and measures that achieve no real results would also be a mistake.”[08/28/13]

Sen. Coburn (R-OK)- “We have passed the point of making a difference in Syria. We are past the point. The window is closed. Leading from behind does not work. And we should have had a vigorous debate early on in the Syrian crisis.” [06/16/13]

Sen. Cruz (R-TX)- “The strike that has been laid out does not seem to me to be focused on or advancing US national security interests. Inserting the United States in a sectarian civil war in Syria is extraordinarily perilous.” [09/04/13]

Sen. Harkin (D-IA)Sunday’s classified briefing “quite frankly raised more questions than it answered. I found the evidence presented by administration officials to be circumstantial. We should not rush into what may become a new open-ended war without broad international backing or a full understanding of the ramifications.” [09/01/13]

Sen. Inhofe (R-OK)-  “I don’t think they will,” Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe said of Congress’ authorization. “A week ago I said I would oppose going in and having military intervention against Syria,” Inhofe said. “It may sound real easy when people like Secretary [John] Kerry say it’s going to be quick, and we’re going to go in and we’re going to send a few cruise missiles and wash our hands and go home. This is going to be a war in the Middle East, and it’s serious.” [09/01/13]

Sen. Inhofe (R-OK)- “It is vital we avoid shortsighted military action that would have little impact on the long-term trajectory of the conflict.”[08/28/13]

Sen. Johnson (R-WI) — Johnson said the process was rushed and that “there were so many unanswered questions that I certainly had.” “This is a pretty important matter,” he said. “I’m highly concerned that the administration’s action will be ineffective. And I think ineffective action would be actually worse than no action whatsoever. I really did not get any kind of comfort level that this administration has adequately planned for the repercussions” of a strike against Syria. [09/04/13]

Sen. Lee (R-UT)- “There is still no compelling national security impetus for American military involvement in a civil war in the Middle East.” [08/31/13]

Sen. Lee (R-UT)-  I do not believe that the range of options the president is considering will accomplish this military objective, and therefore I cannot now support intervention into the Syrian civil war. The risks of the president’s strategy far outweigh the possible gains.  We cannot ask our men and women in uniform to engage in a military conflict that does not present a national security threat to the United States.  Instead, the U. S. should work vigorously to identify and neutralize any real threats to our national security – such as the proliferation of chemical weapons. [09/05/13]

Sen. Murray (D-WA)- “The use of chemical weapons, as well as conventional weapons, on innocent civilians in Syria is abhorrent and must end. However, as the recent past has taught us, we must be exceedingly cautious in making any decision that holds the possibility of entangling our nation in a long, drawn-out conflict.” [08/29/13]

Sen. Murphy (D-CT)- “Before engaging in a military strike against Assad’s forces, the United States must understand that this action will likely draw us into a much wider and much longer-term conflict that could mean an even greater loss of life within Syria.”[08/27/13]

Sen. Murphy (D-CT)-  “I really worry, the reason for my no vote today, is that one, I think that military action could perhaps actually make the situation worse, could just lend more chaos to an already volatile situation,” Murphy continued. [09/04/13]

Sen. Moran (R-Kan.) — Said U.S. “cannot afford another conflict that taxes our resources without achieving goals that advance American interests.” [09/04/13]

Sen. Manchin (D-WV)- “Given the case that has been presented to me, I believe that a military strike against Syria at this time is the wrong course of action. I believe that we must exhaust all diplomatic options and have a comprehensive plan for international involvement before we act.” [09/05/13]

Sen. Paul (R-KY)- “I think all of the bad things that you can imagine are more likely if you get involved in the Syrian civil war. When you set a red line that was not a good idea in the beginning with and now you’re going to try to adhere to it and show your machismo, I think then you’re trying to save face and really adding bad policy to bad policy.[09/01/13]

Sen. Paul (R-KY)- “This is the most important decision that any President or senator must make, and it deserves vigorous debate.” [08/31/13]

Sen. Paul (R-KY)- The President and his Administration have not provided good answers to any of these questions. Those who seek military action have an obligation to publicly address these concerns before dragging our soldiers into another Middle Eastern war. Shooting first and aiming later has not worked for us in the past, and it should not be our game plan now.” [09/04/13]

Sen. Risch (R-Idaho) — “The answer is that there are no good answers here. My judgment is that the risk of doing something is worse than the risk of doing nothing.” [09/05/13]

Sen. Roberts (R-Kan.) — “While I recognize the horror of citizens and their children being murdered by their own government, whether by poison gas or bombs and bullets, it is clear we have no meaningful coalition of allies –not the UN, the Arab League or even the British — nor detailed plan of action, nor clear picture of our objective. “This proposed action is both dangerous and inept and, as defined by the President – instead of sending a strong message to Assad, North Korea, Iran and Russia – will be regarded as little more than a slap on the wrist. Our nation should never engage without a clear objective, a plan of alternative action and a clear exit strategy. The Senate resolution does not clarify or meet these requirements.” [09/04/13]

Sen. Rubio (R-FL)- “I agree with the decision to seek Congressional approval before taking military action in Syria. And I believe Congress should return to Washington immediately and begin to debate this issue. The United States should only engage militarily when it is pursuing a clear and attainable national security goal. Military action taken simply to send a message or save face does not meet that standard,” [08/31/13]

Sen. Rubio (R-FL)- “However, while I have long argued forcefully for engagement in empowering the Syrian people, I have never supported the use of U.S. military force in the conflict. And I still don’t. I remain unconvinced that the use of force proposed here will work.  [09/04/13]

Sen. Sessions (R-AL)- “It is critical that the Administration articulate a clear national policy as we contemplate further involvement in this dangerous and complex region. Certainly the American people are correct to be concerned about our position in the Middle East, particularly our seeming lack of any clear strategy or purpose.” [08/31/13]

Sen. Schatz (D-HI)- “Though all of us are outraged by the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, I have concluded that a military strike against Syria is not the answer. Therefore, I will oppose this resolution,” said in a statement. [09/05/13]

Sen. Sanders (D-VT) – “I don’t sense that the American people have much appetite to get involved in what could be a real quagmire.” [09/06/13]

Sen. Udall (D-NM)- “We should not enter into a conflict until we’ve exhausted every diplomatic and international option. We have not done that. The risks of the actions we are contemplating now are too great.” “We should not take it lightly that the American people are not with us. New Mexicans are tired of war,” said. [09/04/13]

Sen. Vitter (R-LA) – “As horrible as events in Syria are, they do not pose a direct threat to the United States or our allies. U.S. military action could spark a broader war and/or entangle us in Syria’s protracted civil war in which elements of the opposition are even worse than the Assad regime, all while our troops are underfunded.” [09/05/13]

Sen. Warren (D-MA)- “I am deeply concerned that our aid might have unintended consequences. We need clear goals and a plan to achieve them or else the United States could get bogged down in another war in the Middle East.” [08/31/13]



(A to M, for N to Z, click here)

Rep. Aderholt (R-AL)- Obama’s speech “leaves many questions, such as who exactly are the ‘good guys’ in this conflict? And how is American involvement not the fuel for the fire the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist are trying to ignite throughout the region? Cruise missiles are not a strategy. The president by now should see that foreign policy is far more complex than that.” [09/03/13]

Rep. Aderholt (R-AL)-“How is American involvement not the fuel for the fire the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist are trying to ignite throughout the region?” [09/03/13]

Rep. Amash (R-MI)- “Americans don’t support war in Syria and neither does Congress. No clear U.S. interest or strategy. We don’t want entanglement in this war.” [09/03/13]

Rep. Bonamici (D-OR) – “This is an important decision. The use of chemical weapons is horrific, but we need to make sure we have all the information to make an informed decision in congress.” [09/02/13]

Rep. Bridenstine (R-OK)- “I am pleased that President Obama is seeking Congressional authorization to use U.S. military force in Syria.  As a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, I believe that the use of U.S. military force should be selective, based on America’s national security interests.  Thus far, President Obama has failed to clearly define America’s national security interests in Syria or explain how a limited cruise missile strike would contribute to achieving our strategic objectives.  I look forward to hearing the President’s case, but right now I’m skeptical.” [09/03/13]

Rep. Burgess (R-TX)- “I have to tell you, in my mind, it’s far from settled. Certainly the mood of the district that I represent is: ‘Do not do this.’ And I honestly did not hear anything that told me I ought to have a different position.” [09/01/13]

Rep. Burgess (R-TX)- “Yes, I saw the classified documents yesterday. They were pretty thin.” [09/02/13]

Rep. Becerra (D-CA)- “I myself have questions about any authorization for the use of force that goes beyond discrete task of sending a strong message that the use of chemical weapons is against not only international law but all moral authority on this planet.” [09/01/13]

Rep. Coble (R-NC)- “As of right now, I am leaning towards voting against the use of any American military assets against Syria for several reasons.  First, the costs of even a limited action will be enormous, and we cannot afford it.  In the past, even limited military actions have had a way of spinning out of control, costing American taxpayers billions of dollars that we simply do not have. Second, it appears that if we pursue this course, we will be going it alone. Our allies Great Britain, France and Germany will sit on the sidelines, and I do not see any assistance forthcoming from our friends in the Middle East, Turkey, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Third, it appears we will be a day late and dollar short in taking any meaningful action against the Assad regime.  If this action was so urgent, why has something not been done already. These months of dithering have given Assad the time needed to be prepared for any would-be American military action.” [09/03/13]

Rep. Cole (R-OK)- “Everyone hates what is happening there. It doesn’t mean we are in a position to stop it. And I am very skeptical about this latest step.” [06/16/13]

Rep. Cole (R-OK)- “If we’re not going to destroy or secure the [chemical] stocks, if we’re not trying to change the regime, if this is all about making a point — and not a particularly effective one at that — then that strikes me as a rather frivolous use of American military power.” [09/01/13]

Rep. Cummings (D-MD)- “That’s something we need to be able to explain,” he said, noting he had not decided if he would vote to strike. “That has to be a part of the education. Congress people are listening to their constituents, constituents need to know the significance of the chemical weapons.” [09/01/13]

Rep. Duncan (R-TN)- “We do not have the authority under our Constitution or even under international law to get involved in a civil war in another country.” [08/27/13]

Rep. Fleming (R-LA)- “As the situation now stands, I will vote against U.S. military action in Syria. I cannot condone putting our Armed Forces in harm’s way or committing our military resources to a situation that is so filled with uncertainty and volatility. Our national security is not under threat from the Syrian civil war and President Obama has shown no clear objective that would be accomplished by launching missiles into Syria.” [09/03/13]

Rep. Forbes (R-VA)- “I have no intention of voting to authorize American intervention in Syria. While the President’s decision to seek congressional authorization for military involvement in Syria shows a regard for the Constitution that has been noticeably absent for much of his presidency, I remain strongly opposed to an action that I believe will in no way contribute to America’s national security interests.” [09/03/13]

Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE)- “The U.S. should not bomb Syrians in the name of stopping violence in Syria,” Fortenberry said. “Quick, unilateral military strikes might satisfy the President’s ‘red line’ rhetoric, but the collateral damage and destabilization risks are too high…The international community must work together creatively to stop the savagery of Assad, but it cannot hide behind US military might.” [08/30/13]

Rep. Gardner (R-CO)- “President Obama must not act unilaterally,” [08/30/13]

Rep. Grayson (D-FL)-  “Not a single British citizen has been attacked and not a single American citizen has been attacked.” [09/03/13]

Rep. Grayson (D-FL)- “A huge, bi-partisan majority has recognized that a unilateral attack on Syria is not our responsibility, it won’t accomplish anything, it’s expensive, and it’s dangerous.” [09/05/13]

Rep. Grayson (D-FL)- “The proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control has a great deal of merit, and unlike the planned strikes, actually would prevent chemical warfare attacks in the future. Placing Syrian chemical weapons under international control would be constructive.  U.S. military intervention in the Syrian civil war would be destructive.” [09/09/13]

Rep. Grayson (D-FL)- “There is nobody in my district who is so concerned about the wellbeing of people in Syria that they would prefer to see us spend billions of dollars on a missile attack against Syria than to spend exactly the same amount of money on schools or roads or health care,” [08/31/13]

Rep. Grayson (D-FL)- “It’s not our responsibility. It’s not going to do any good. It’s dangerous. And it’s expensive. There are only four countries in the world that have chemical weapons, and the largest is the United States. So are we trying to “send a message” to ourselves? That’s not logical. I’ve heard that theory before, that somehow one country’s actions will affect another country, and another country, and another country. It’s just the “domino argument” [from the Vietnam War] again. We’ll call it the “bomb-ino argument” here. It’s just not logical. It doesn’t make any sense. The polls show that people understand that this literally has nothing to do with us. We are not the world’s policeman. We can’t afford this anymore, these military adventures that lead us into more than a decade of war. It’s wrong. We need to cut it off, before it even happens. In fact, the British went through the same process a few days ago and they came to the right conclusion. We’re not the world’s policeman. We’re not the world’s judge, jury, and executioner. No one else in the world does things like this, and there’s no reason why we should. We’ve got 20 million people in this country who are looking for full-time work. Let’s tend our own garden, for a change. We would have to spend the billion dollars that this attack will cost, according to British authorities. The billion dollars that this attack will cost, that money is better spent on our schools, our roads, our bridges, our health care, and so on and so forth. all the indications are that we will be going in alone. Even French public opinion is overwhelmingly against this, and the French were the only ones entertaining this possibility. It should tell the President something that when he is trying to vindicate so-called “international norms,” that there are 196 countries in the world and no one else, NO ONE, wants to do anything like this. But what I would tell the President is, first, that no Americans have been attacked. None of our allies have been attacked. It’s an unfortunate circumstance, but there are lots of unfortunate circumstances in the world. In Burma, for example, [there is now] a civil war that started 10 years before I was born, and twelve Presidents have resisted the impulse to interfere in the Burmese Civil War, even though far more people have died in the Burmese Civil War than in the Syrian Civil War. And I could give you countless other examples. Sometimes the highest international norm, the one to respect the most, is to mind your own business. And in this case, [military intervention] simply won’t do any good. No one thinks that we’re going to determine the outcome of the Syrian Civil War by lobbing a few missiles into Damascus. No one thinks that we will degrade or even eliminate the possibility of future chemical attacks by doing so. And in doing so, we’ll be wasting a lot of money, and we’ll be opening ourselves up to a counterattack. People forget this, but the U.S. Embassy in Beirut is 15 miles away from the Syrian border, and just down the block from Hezbollah. So if we attack them, and then they attack us, I think people can see where this is headed.” [09/01/13]

Rep. Himes (D-CN)- “I sense pretty much zero support for boots on the ground and in fact a great deal of skepticism for limited strikes. There are profoundly unanswered questions about effectiveness, about what happens next. There’s a lot of memories of another time when the president’s people came in and said they had slam-dunk intelligence and that’s not an episode most members ever want to repeat.” [09/01/13]

Rep. Holding (R-NC)- “But one hard fact is that limited military actions have spun out of control before. And another hard fact is no one knows the consequences of an attack on Syria. And we’d be foolish to ignore the risks. Further, it is unclear how the President’s ‘limited strike’ will serve as a deterrent to future action by an Assad regime that has already proven they will stop at nothing – including the slaughter of its own men, women, and children – to retain power.  Under the Constitution, the right to declare war lies with Congress, and dress it up anyway you want, a military attack on a foreign country is an act of war.  The decision to attack Syria boils down to a series of blunt questions: What abiding American interest makes an attack on another country unavoidable? Is there a justification for putting American lives in danger?  What are the consequences of an attack? We are now rightly going to debate these questions in Congress and, before I can consider voting for any military action, I am going to have to hear some convincing answers.” [09/01/13]

Rep. Gibson (R-NY)- “Military intervention would make it worse and make us responsible for that conflict.” [09/03/13]

Rep. Gibson (R-NY)- “I was on (a call) with the White House about four days ago,” Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said on Wednesday while attending a Business Council of New York event. “It was a long teleconference. I would tell you, I am doing the very best I can to convince my colleagues and the administration that striking Syria will not resolve the matter. “It won’t make it better in my judgment. I’m saying this from the vantage point of 29 years in uniform — five in the National Guard and 24 years in the regular Army,” the retired lieutenant colonel said. [09/04/13]

Rep. Garamendi (D-CA)- So far, Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, is right there with his constituents, saying Wednesday that he opposes a punitive strike by the United States in response to an alleged sarin gas attack on Aug. 21 in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus. That attack killed 1,429 people, the United States says, including hundreds of children. “I’m a ‘no’ vote, unless there’s some information that I’ve not yet heard,” Garamendi said. [09/05/13]

Rep. Garamendi (D-CA)- “With a vote on the horizon, I want to know what we hope to accomplish with a strike, what possible unintended consequences could result, how a strike will impact our allies and the balance of power in the region, how a strike impacts Al Qaeda’s influence and power, and what kind of long term commitment we’re getting into,” Garamendi explained. “We all agree that Assad is a bad man, but before we get