Alabama lawmakers not sold on military strike

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Alabama’s representatives in Washington have been attending briefings and other meetings regarding the country’s position and potential action in Syria.

In his speech to the nation Tuesday night, President Barack Obama made his case for military action against Syria’s President Bashar Assad. However, Obama said he would be relying also on the opinion of Congress before a decision was made.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin open to talks of securing Syria’s chemical weapons, the United States and Congress have seen an ease in pressure to act quickly.

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Congresswoman Martha Roby participated in two classified briefings on Monday with officials from the Department of Defense, Department of State and the nation’s intelligence community. Tuesday morning, she attended a White House meeting with a select number of fellow House members and Vice President Joe Biden.

Roby said she appreciated the Obama Administration for reaching out to Congress to provide background needed to make an informative decision, but she isn’t sold on a plan for military action.

“Despite my serious doubts about the wisdom of military action in Syria, I have been careful not to cast a final judgment on this decision before seeing all the facts and giving the Administration a chance to make its case,” Roby said. “What I’ve learned about the Administration’s plans has not quelled my doubts. I remain deeply concerned that the use of military force in Syria at this time could have serious negative consequences for our country.”

Roby also said she realizes that the situation between the United States and talks with other countries remains fluid and she encourages Obama and other officials to continue to consult with members of Congress.

While Sen. Jeff Sessions has yet to publicly announce his opinion on a resolution regarding Syria, he has previously said that much discussion needs to happen before the United States takes a course of action.

Alabama’s other senator, Richard Shelby, said he is opposed to the use of American military force in Syria. Shelby announced his position Tuesday after attending a Senate Republican Conference lunch with the President.

“I will vote against President Obama’s plan because it appears that he does not really have one,” Shelby said, noting that he believes the President failed to explain what he wanted to achieve, or how he wanted to achieve it.

While Obama’s address to the nation Tuesday evening noted that American military forces would remain at the ready in case other efforts failed, the President remained hopeful for a more peaceful course of action through requiring Assad to turn over chemical weapons for destruction.

“It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments,” Obama said Tuesday night. “But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies. I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path.”