Sen. Lamar Alexander will not support authorizing a U.S. strike in Syria, revealing his position Monday in remarks given to the Nashville Rotary Club.
"I will vote no because of too much uncertainty about what comes next," Alexander said in a news release issued after the event. "After step A, what will be steps B, C, D and E? I see too much risk that the strike will do more harm than good by setting off a chain of consequences that could involve America fighting men and women in another long-term Middle East conflict."
The senator continued explaining his position, saying that the U.S. should find other ways to show disgust with the alleged use of chemical weapons by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Alexander offered no specific recommendations for what other forms U.S. reaction could entail.
"There should be other ways, more appropriate to America's vital national security interests, to discourage and show our disgust with the Syrian government's apparent use of chemical weapons on its own people," he said.
Alexander, whose initial statements regarding a congressional vote on Syria put him in a camp described by publications as "leaning no," will now fall opposite of the stance taken by his Tennessee colleague, Sen. Bob Corker. Corker, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, helped write and introduce a bill granting authorization to the White House last week.
The bill was approved last week in a 10-7 vote.
Alexander's announcement also came minutes after his opponent in next year's Republican primary, state Rep. Joe Carr, issued a press release criticizing the senator for not yet having offered a stance on Syria. Carr, who also opposes a Syrian strike, said all he heard from Alexander on the issue was "crickets."
"I think the state of Tennessee is demanding, and will get, someone who is going to show leadership," Carr said in a news release.
Less than an hour later, Alexander had announced his stance.
The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution as soon as Wednesday.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann "leaning against" strike
The timing of a House vote on Syria remains unknown, but if Rep. Chuck Fleischmann were voting today, he would be heading to the Capitol "leaning no."
Fleischmann, who has yet to have announced a specific position on the issue, revealed his current thoughts on the issue to Newsmax Monday. Previously, the congressman had said opinions of constituents in the 3rd Congressional District would weigh heavily on his decision whether to support or oppose a strike.
In the report, he said he had heard an "overwhelming no" across the district.
"I heard impassioned pleas to vote no—and it was an overwhelming no," Fleischmann is quoted saying. "People told me, 'Chuck, don't get us involved [in Syria] in any way' … There are several reasons. People are war-weary and afraid, and they feel the administration has no military goals when it talks about Syria. I also heard some concern that if there is a strike, then there is the potential for escalated conflict with other countries getting involved. This is what happened after World War I started."
The congressman's view is similar to that of his neighbor, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who said last week he will vote no on a strike resolution.
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