By DAVID N. GOODMAN, Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) – Bridging the political aisle, Michigan’s members of Congress say they support President Barack Obama’s decision to ask for a congressional vote before undertaking an attack on Syria in response to apparent poison gas attacks the U.S. says killed at least 1,400 people.
Republican U.S. Reps. Candice Miller and Justin Amash and Democratic U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee and Sander Levin have issued statements endorsing Obama’s decision to seek support from Congress rather than rely solely on his powers as president. The House and Senate return from summer recess Sept. 9.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Obama “made a strong case” Saturday when he gave his reasons for a retaliatory attack on the Syrian government but said he wanted congressional backing before acting.
The president “wisely chose to seek congressional support, even though he believes he is not required by law to do so,” Levin said in a statement. “It is important that the president is seeking support and participation from other countries, including Arab countries.
“I have again urged the president to use this time to help the Syrian people defend themselves by assisting vetted elements of the Syrian opposition in obtaining more effective weapons such as anti-tank weapons.”
Miller, from Harrison Township, said she believes Obama needs a vote from Congress before he can legally act.
“I disagree with President Obama when he states that he has the unilateral authority to take our nation into another war in Syria, but I am glad that he has decided to seek an authorization for this action from Congress,” Miller said in a statement.
She said she was “very thankful that so many of my constituents have responded and the input I have received so far indicates that they are very skeptical that it is in our nation’s interests to become engaged in the Syrian conflict.
“I share their skepticism.”
After attending a classified briefing Sunday, Miller said she still does not believe that “the case has yet been made” for U.S. military action against Syria. What is clear, she said, is that President Bashar Assad’s government did attack its people with poison.
“I am now quite certain based on the information shared with us that the Assad regime did use chemical weapons in the ongoing Syrian civil war,” Miller said. “It is my belief that the world must unite against such an assault on human dignity and join together to stop further such atrocities.”
Kildee, of Flint, said he looked forward to “a robust debate in the Congress and a discussion with the American people. I will continue to listen to the concerns of my constituents and evaluate the intelligence and the use of limited military force. Ultimately, I will make a decision and vote solely based on the facts and evidence presented to me.”
Rep. Sander Levin, of Royal Oak, said he also attended a classified briefing Sunday on the U.S. evidence “that the Syrian government carried out a major chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 involving a nerve agent.”
“The Syrian government has crossed a red line set out not only by the president but over many years by human society,” said Levin, Carl Levin’s brother. “The Congress must respond and I will vote in favor of a response that is targeted and focused.”
Amash, of Cascade Township, said in a Twitter posting that “it took a lot of pressure” from the public and Congress, but the president “made the right decision by requesting authorization from Congress before taking military action.” He said Obama “hasn’t come close to justifying war in Syria, and I know few members of Congress who support an attack on Syria based on the current reasoning of the administration.”
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