Although several Tennessee lawmakers are joining Sen. Bob Corker's calls for congressional authorization for a U.S. action in Syria, they stop short at expressing any support for a "surgical, proportional" strike like the senator.
In remarks yesterday in Chattanooga, Corker said he would support a forceful U.S. response in Syria following the alleged use of chemical weapons last week by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The senator also said he would prefer for Congress to play a more prominent role in determining how a response would be carried out in the country and reiterated his position later on Wednesday during an appearance on CNN's "OutFront" news program.
"I do think we would be so much better off if the administration would come to Congress, call everybody back and let Congress authorize this activity," he said.
The sentiment was shared in part by Sen. Lamar Alexander, who said in an emailed statement Thursday that Obama should consult with Congress before acting on a plan. Although the senator did not say Congress should be required to give President Barack Obama's administration a green light before a Syrian strike, he added that he didn't want to see the U.S. get bogged down in another conflict.
"The president should consult with Congress on any plan to address the situation in Syria, and I don't want to see any action that gets our country into another long-term military commitment in the Middle East," Alexander said.
Chattanooga-area congressmen offered a more hard line on their desire for the president to seek approval from members of Congress on a strike.
In an emailed statement, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said he would prefer for Obama to convene Congress and seek approval before acting. On Wednesday, the congressman signed his name to a letter with 116 fellow House members, "strongly" urging the president to seek input from the legislative branch.
"I believe that before we engage in the conflict it is imperative that we fully understand the implications and have a long-term plan," Fleischmann said. "I, along with 116 other members, signed a letter asking the president to address Congress before involving our military in another international conflict."
Along with Fleischmann, Tennessee Reps. Phil Roe, John Duncan, Stephen Fincher, Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn signed the letter.
Rep. Scott DesJarlais issued a statement Wednesday saying he was "of the firm opinion" that the U.S. should not employ any military force until Obama clearly outlined his goals for a campaign before members of Congress. The congressman said he feared an unintended consequence of assisting rebel groups who would then empower anti-U.S. extremist groups in the country.
"While Bashar al-Assad is nothing short of a despot, his opposition is comprised of a group with direct ties to al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood," DesJarlais said in a news release. "In fact, the enemies of America and in the Middle East would love nothing more than to drag us into another military conflict, causing us more damage financially and risking our personnel abroad. Unless there is solid intelligence to suggest that American interests need to be protected through our actions, I will continue to oppose military intervention."
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