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Sen. Al Franken, D: Emerged from a Democratic senators’ meeting with President Obama on Tuesday still undecided about whether he would ultimately vote for a resolution authorizing military force in Syria. “I haven’t made a decision yet about what I’m going to do because I don’t know exactly what I’m going to be voting on,” he said.
He said Monday’s overture by Russia will “stretch out” any decision by Congress. “You have to be very skeptical, of course, about the Russians and obviously the Syrians,” he said. Franken called the current Senate resolution overly “broad,” adding that he would consider a resolution that limits the United States to a “response to the use of chemical weapons and not about the resolution of the civil war.”
While he does not want to drag the United States into a Middle East conflict, he said, “you have to think about the risks of [no military strike], which include that it will lower the threshold for the use of chemical weapons.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D: Called the Russian overture a “game changer” that the Obama administration should pursue with the international community before seeking authorization from Congress to use military force. She also considers the administration’s language on a use-of-force resolution “too broad,” but said “the threat of a military strike was important in getting them to the negotiating table.” She added: “I think it’s important we keep in on the table in terms of leverage, but for me, it will depend on what the language would be.”
In the House
Rep. Tim Walz, D, 1st District: After holding a public hearing on Syria on Friday, Walz issued a statement Monday saying, “I cannot in good conscience support current proposals to take unilateral, military action.”
Rep. John Kline, R, 2nd District: After attending a House Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Kline issued a statement opposing U.S. military intervention. He said Obama “has failed to convey to the American people a clear objective,” adding, “he continues to offer no persuasive rationale.”
Rep. Erik Paulsen, R, 3rd District: Co-sponsored a resolution on Tuesday establishing a Syrian war crimes tribunal, but said he opposes Obama’s plans for military action in Syria.
Rep. Betty McCollum, D, 4th District: Has co-sponsored a House resolution calling for a limited strike in Syria.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D, 5th District: Says he is against war “almost every time,” but has been an outspoken advocate for taking action against the Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R, 6th District: Was one of the first Republicans in Congress to come out against military intervention in Syria, expressing deep distrust of some of the jihadist elements in the rebel opposition.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D, 7th District: An early opponent of U.S. intervention in Syria.
Rep. Rick Nolan, D, 8th District: One of the most outspoken Democrats in Congress against a military strike, which he said could easily escalate into deeper U.S. involvement. He’s also called for an international tribunal, and publicly clashed with White House officials over a U.S. attack.
What weapons are believed to be in Syria?
Intelligence estimates suggest that Syria may possess one of the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons. According to a French intelligence estimate, Syria is believed to possess “several hundred tons of sulfur mustard” as well as “tens of tons of VX” and “several hundred tons of sarin,” all powerful chemical agents. All are believed to be in the possession of Unit 450, an elite air force division.
New York Times