Key U.S. lawmakers: Expect strike in Syria
August 25th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
12 months ago

Key U.S. lawmakers: Expect strike in Syria

Updated at 11:48 a.m. ET on 8/25

Washington (CNN) – Two key members of congressional foreign affairs panels say they expect the United States to strike Syria following reports of chemical weapons attacks in that country last week, though other lawmakers interviewed Sunday cautioned that unilateral action would be misguided.

"I think we will respond in a surgical way and I hope the president, as soon as we get back to Washington, will ask for authorization from Congress to do something in a very surgical and proportional way. Something that gets their attention, that causes them to understand that we are not going to put up with that kind of activity," Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."

But Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs panel, said President Barack Obama may not need to wait for congressional authorization.

"Congress needs to be involved but perhaps not initially," Engel said. "Perhaps the president could start and then Congress needs to resolve it and assent to it. We cannot sit still. We've got to move and we've got to move quickly."

Another Democrat, however, said the United States should only intervene militarily in Syria with the backing of an international coalition.

“This has to be an international operation, it can’t be a unilateral American approach,” Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“We can’t let ourselves get into a situation where this becomes a springboard for a general military operation in Syria to try and change the dynamic,” Reed said. “That dynamic is going to be long term, very difficult, and ultimately established by the Syrians, not by foreign powers.”

Rep. Mike McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on CBS he didn’t think Americans “have an appetite to put troops on the ground in Syria.”

The situation in Syria escalated dramatically last week after reports the government there used chemical weapons in civilian areas.

Opposition groups say over a thousand people died in the attack with thousands more affected by the gas.

CNN cannot independently verify the causality claims.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister said Sunday that the government will allow United Nations inspectors to visit the site of the alleged attack, but that may be too late.

"If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the UN – five days ago. At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the UN team is too late to be credible," a senior Obama administration official said Sunday.

Over 100,000 people are estimated to have perished so far in Syria's civil war.

CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.


Filed under: Bob Corker • Syria
soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. g

    the rebels will be back to burning american flags in no time at all

    August 25, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. Just a thought

    What ...let the inspectors get out first....right?

    August 25, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. Just a thought

    I'm not for U.S. involvement at all. Let the French, Brits and Turks sock it to these guys...we are still in afghanistan, need we forget(?)

    August 25, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. Just a thought

    Let's just allow an international coalition to get Asad out of there...Just like in Libya. Not an American life lost. We got paid back for the cost of that war and a decades long dictator was brought to justice by his own people. We should have done it that way in Iraq...but no...the GOP/Tea trolls are still saying "Obama led from behind" "we were against before we were for it, now that we were successful we're against it again" ....Benghazi, Benghazi, blah blah... Does any one with a brain see that the GOP/Tea mouth breathers are useless to any sensible discussion as they are always short on common sense with serious deficits in the area of understanding obvious facts.

    August 25, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  5. don in albuquerque

    Ya know, for about two thousand years the Middle East has been a mess. About two thousand years from now it will still be a mess, why, religion. Keep us out of this one. We need not involve ourselves any further in religious wars.

    August 25, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. Just a thought

    Don't ask anybody from the GOP/Tea Troll party. They only want to repeal Obamacare....The foreign policies and "stra-te-jury" of the party of the innane is a proven failure...No need to seek the opinion of the intellectually blind, deaf and dumb

    August 25, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. Nothing At All

    What about determining the facts before taking action unlike Iraq and WMD.

    August 25, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  8. Name

    the united states can't even take care of its own citizen, take care of your own before asking the others, take care means make education affordable, minimum wage equity living, veteran disable, poor and the sick in the united states then you can tell other countries how to treats it ppl

    August 25, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. Anthony in California

    First of all, how much do these strikes cost?
    We're broke, lets just blow up a couple towns with some multi-million dollar military assets, then go back in and pay for rebuilding it all.
    We can afford burning millions, but we dont have money to fund affordable health care, better schools, or infrastructure (highways, bridges)?

    August 25, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. ApostasyUSA

    US officials have “little doubt” about the use of WMD. Oh where oh where have we heard that one before?

    Please. There happens to be huge doubts about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. For one, why would Assad use the types of weapons with UN inspectors in country? Secondly, if these are chemical weapons then why aren't the people in the pictures sent by the opposition, wearing protective suits?

    There are plenty of doubts surrounding the claims of the use of WMD so stop pounding the war drums please. Too many interest want war with Syria for me to take these claims seriously. Stop with the BS.

    The claims of the existence of some red line are ridiculous as well. It’s like saying, “Assad, you can kill as many people as you want, just not with these types of weapons.” It’s garbage. If you want to step into this fight do it with honor.

    Now let’s watch as some cowards launch a couple of cruise missiles into Syria from Utah or wherever. Real brave intervention from the soldierless army of drones.

    August 25, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  11. rickp530

    We need to stay out of these wars in the middle east. Our involvement would cost more American life's and money which we don't have.

    August 25, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. Jocho Johnson

    Another 99% against any intervention in Syria let them figure out their problems for themselves or the Russians, Turks, and Brazilians can make an international force paid for by EU money.

    August 25, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. Susan

    Lawmakers, expect to lose your seats in the next elections if you do launch strikes against Syria. You may want to support islamic terrorists, the american people do not.

    August 25, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. reldra

    No one even knows who is responsible for any chemical attack yet. Who do we 'surgically strike'? The government has only been getting us used to the idea of us going to war there. Corporations want it, so we manufacture a reason.

    August 25, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. Stevo

    Obama doesn't need "permission" from congress! That's a republican presidents burden

    August 25, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. Matt Mattson

    Let me guess how this will go. A drumbeat will begin in the press, for the President to "do something." We'll see more and more stories of "the outrage" going on. There will be more and more face time for reporters to do open commentary on "news" outlets (the reporters btw are paid by face time on camera). In the Hamptons and other circles of power, decisions will start to be made on where best to place advertising and buy stocks related to the coming "crisis." There will be a sudden barrage of news stories, commentary, and news panels all pressuring the President. He does something: usually beginning with bombs. There is a wild orgy of news footage – must see TV – bombs dropping on Syria (or insert name)! The advertisers love it, the reporters love it, a story with teeth, and they're getting "face time" and fat wallets like never before. Then, somebody gets killed, or enough soldiers or airmen get killed, maimed, captured, that collective guilt sets in. All of a sudden – this is a terrible thing. We're bombing the innocents! How could we as Americans, be so bloodthirsty? The drumbeat will begin. We must get out! This is not our fight, none of our affair, how did this happen? All the while, the commentators and reporters are getting "face time." This fairy tale was brought to you by an old guy who has seen this cycle repeat and repeat again for over 50 years – and I'm sick of it.

    August 25, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. psychicstalker

    I don't think Obama is going to wait for Congress, don't think he has to. He made it clear what the repercussions were going to be if chemical warfare on civilians was used and the issue is greater than just the immediate loss of civilian life in Syria. Assad's daddy was a murdering pos, Assad Jr. is a murdering pos, just take him out. We should have taken out Saddam when he used chemical warfare but we didn't and it was a mistake to wait a decade to deal with it. Syria will still be a mess but it will be a smaller mess if we take Assad and crew out and quickly neutralize whatever chemical weapons he has squirreled away.

    August 25, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Let send Obama and all the Politician that support the strike on Syria and let them fight in other country's civil war instead of sending our soldier to die for nothing.

    August 25, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. bmull

    Anyone who voted for the Iraq war ought to be ignored when they demand we attack Syria RIGHT NOW. That means you Eliot "AIPAC" Engel.

    August 25, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. kona

    Stay out!

    August 25, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Vox Populi

    Warmongering cowards! Go enlist in the military! How dare you try and abuse our military and resources in your quest for hegemony over the middle east!

    HELL NO, WE WON'T GO!

    August 25, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. Toolttime

    So. Will they strike if they find it was the Islamic terrorists that used them to try and fool the world

    August 25, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. Mike Stenberg

    Yippeee... Another place for Obama to spend a few billion dollars and get more of our troops killed while our economy suffers and debt goes off the charts. I have an idea...why don't we let the U.N. deal with this while we mind our own damned business!

    August 25, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. george

    you all care about politics and pointing fingers, all I see is dead children and something needs to be done.

    August 25, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  25. Smeagel4T

    This will likely be pretty limited and really just a signal to Syria that if you do it again you're going to get slapped again. I've been to a few lectures by retired high ranking Pentagon officials. They ALL has been very consistent in their statement that Syria is "no win" and the US should not get involved in the war in any significant capacity. Humanitarian aid, yes. Fighting, no. Plus the Pentagon seems to have an oddly strange focus on wanting to understand any "exit strategy" BEFORE any ideas of getting involved. What a refreshing and responsible change from a decade ago.

    August 25, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
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