Getting Congress involved in the discussion – and potential decision – over whether to take military action in Syria is a good step, some members of Congress from Western New York said Saturday.
But grave concerns about the situation were expressed, with some elected officials cautioning about what could lie down the road.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, called the Syria situation “extemely complex,” in a statement released Saturday, but said he was “pleased President Obama has made the decision to consult and receive authorization from Congress” on the matter.
Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, said in a statement that he considered the involvement of Congress a positive step.
“I appreciate that the president is now involving Congress,” Reed said. “The White House must give us a clear definition of the objectives and parameters of our potential involvement.”
“This will be a very important debate,” Reed said.
But, while the news of Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval on the question of military action filtered out, at the start of Labor Day weekend, some members of Congress from the Buffalo area were critical of the idea of such action.
“There are no good military options for the United States regarding Syria,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo. “I will not support any American military intervention in Syria. The fact is, Americans are sick of foreign war.”
Higgins said he was especially concerned about what could happen in the aftermath of such action.
“We could have a larger conflict as a result,” he said.
Higgins summarized his opinion of the country’s priorities in this way: “We need to do nation-building at home.”
The news of Obama’s decision to ask Congress for approval on the matter came in unexpected fashion, during a holiday weekend.
Collins said in his statement that he was headed to Washington on Sunday to attend a “classified, interagency briefing” that had been called in the House.
Collins’ statement said that he would wait to gather more information before making up his mind on the situation.
“As I said earlier this week, the situation in Syria is deeply troubling and any military response by the United States could have ramifications far beyond the Syrian border,” Collins said in his statement. “Before deciding how I will vote when Congress returns to session, I will thoroughly review all of the available intelligence and learn all I can about the limited military action in Syria proposed by President Obama.”
Higgins said he did not plan to return to Washington until the start of the session on Sept. 9. He said he participated on Friday in a conference call with the White House on the situation in Syria.
“I continue to monitor this very, very closely,” Higgins said.
The office of Sen. Charles M. Schumer, D-N.Y., released a statement on Syria that Schumer had made previously.
“Assad is a brutal dictator and the deaths of so many from chemical weapons is appalling,” the Schumer statement read. “A limited action to knock out his capability of delivering chemical weapons in the future could be appropriate, but we have to be very careful not to let our involvement escalate. America needs to focus on domestic issues such as jobs and the middle class.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was on a flight overseas Saturday, according to her office staff, and could not be reached to comment.
Gillibrand’s office released a statement she had made previously on the Syria issue, part of which ran this way: “My heart broke when I saw the horrible images of innocent women and children slaughtered by chemical weapons.
“This is a heinous and despicable act that cannot be ignored.”