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.
Why don't the Arab nations police their own? Where is the coalition of Arab states that will stand up for fellow Arabs? Using chemical weapons is an atrocity but it is not our place to make right every atrocity in the world.
Is this not a democracy? Why are we not asking the people what they want to do.
An overwhelming amount of Americans do not want to involve ourselves in Syria. Just go to your jobs water cooler and find out...
I demand 1 piece of evidence linking Syria before we even consider getting involved military with another war. So far all evidence has pointed to the Rebels releasing the chemicals, and the US are saying they want to strike the government? It makes no sense...
The US needs to stay out of Syria. There is nothing that will serve the US interest, the security of our people or the betterment of us as a nation that can be achieved by a cruise missile, or any other, attach.
So America will take the side of the cannibals. It is never a good decision to take the side of the cannibals.
We had an opportunity, a window in which we could have greatly benefited the just rebellion against Assad, before it was annexed by Al Qaeda et al; but, we dithered and deferred and now it is gone and there are no good options left. Obama can be a war criminal by attacking Syria; or, he can be a war criminal by allowing Assad free rein to butcher his own countrymen. Either way, it is clear that Obama does not understand and cannot understand what he hath wrought.
@Just A Thought: No, we can't let the inspectors out first. If we do that, they'll likely concoct some hare-brained story for the UN about the gas attacks being carried out by the rebels like they did last time. We can't have all these pesky facts getting in the way of American expansion in the Middle East.
Why haven't the Arab states formed a coalition to defend their Arab brothers? Shouldn't they be on the front line of this problem? 1/2 of them use our military equipment. Why do we place ourselves in the position of policeman of the world? Sorry, there will always be atrocities and cannot jump from 1 atrocity to the next and clean everything up.
How do we know this wasn't the result of the al queda groups trying to make their own chem weapons and had an accident?
In any case last I checked Syria isn't one of the states of the USA and isn't attacking the USA so it isn't any of the federal government's business.
When you do that.......expect strikes on the U.S. in return.
Of course liberals dont want strikes on Assad. They could care less about other people. These terrible weapons by Assad being used on thousands of children, dont expect the bleeding hearts to care when they support the barbaric killing of millions of innocent babies in America over the past few decades.
100,000 killed so far. We can find a way to pay for Obama to have numerous lavish vacations, dinners, etc. Yet, we cant take out a few strategic spots real quick?
No! No! No! How many times do the American people have to tell these idiots in Washington that we want no more foreign military adventurers?
It doesn't matter what we say here, though, because the US no longer has a democratic government. Congress only listens to who donates the most in "campaign contributions".
Is Assad a bad man? Yes. Are the "rebels" any better? No. Is this whole thing an American problems? No.
It is not the role of the US government to play the world's policeman. If this situation bothers the EU, then they can send their young men and women into fight and die.
It is not even clear yet who actually used the chemical weapons in Syria, so how can we do anything until we know the answer to that question? The idea of the U.S. getting involved at this point without knowing who used the chemical weapons is stupid and bordering on criminal.
When all else fails in a presidency start a war. Presidents start wars for their own agendas especially when they have failed as bad as our current president. It will boost the economy and make the rich richer. They need their war to keep the industrial war machines pumping.
This is a global situation – which demands global response. Since the situation is now this far out of control, and we have to acknowledge that Russia, China, Iran and Israel all have a huge stake in this, the government cannot blow through the doors thinking they're going to make an impact for the positive. This is the reason we have the U.N. – and it is up to NATO forces to handle this situation rapidly and forcefully. Will there be peace? No. Will it possibly help end the senseless and horrific slaying of thousands of innocent children and non-combatants? Hopefully.
Hang onto your wallets folks, here we go again. The chicken hawk Republicans can't seem to get enough of the middle east mess. I wouldn't put it past the rebels/islamists/al qaeda to have pulled this off just to draw military support from the West to further their cause.
The US is positioning the naval carriers for a missile barrage. The U.S. government has little respect for its citizens and what the citizen thinks, wants or believes in. They "know" better – we have allowed this government to lead us with the ring in our nose. Yet if this response plan goes awry with Russia, China and Iran stepping in to protect their interests, there's a good possibility you can so goodbye to Israel. When that happens, you'll also be saying goodbye to the U.S. so it really won't matter what Americans wanted.
The GOP things they still call the. Shots???you lost the electionmoron, he's the commander in chief and doesn't need your permission to take action and he will. It's like the GOP thinks they still pertisapate in government but it looks to me that you have opp out for the last five years???? See you in nov 2014 at the polls!!!!
I fail to understand why this is a US problem.
@just a thought..thank you for such a constructive and thoughtful post. You are a shining example of what is wrong with political discourse today. And no, I am not a Republican, just someone who is sick of mindless name calling.
The military industrial complex is in charge. It matters very little who is in the White House.
Here we go again, another conflict were we engage ourselfs and get entangled with no end in sight!
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO : Did I say "NO" ?
Are they the ones who supported Dubya in finding WMDs in Baghdad...
To all us citizen please call your reperesentative office and express your objection to spend more money on stinking miidle east affairs. Let them kill amongst themselves . We need not be involved
We need to vote this criminals OUT!