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Local Congressional delegation has mixed views on Syria

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Rosa Duarte, Reporter, RDuarte@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 04 2013 09:00:14 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 05 2013 09:01:16 AM CDT

The president's plan to use force in Syria has won a battle on Capitol Hill.

The president's plan to use force in Syria has won a battle on Capitol Hill.

The Senate Foreign Relations committee authorizes military action but there are still two more votes to go.

Where do lawmakers from our area stand?

Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent is one who feels the U.S. should not go to war in Syria.

Others from our area want to hear more about the President's plan.

The Senate Foreign relations Committee voted 10-7 to authorize military action in Syria.

But the fight on Capitol Hill is far from over.

“Passing a congressional authorization to intervene in Syria will be a much more difficult challenge in the House than the Senate,” said Congressman Charlie Dent, a Republican representing Pennsylvania's 15th District.

The Senate committee drafted a plan that will not allow boots on the ground but does allow military action in a 60-day time frame, due to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Bashar Assad government.

The full Senate will consider the resolution next week.

Congressman Charlie Dent says local Syrians in the 15th district are worried.

“Clearly they are very concerned because many of them have friends and family members over there who are in a vulnerable position,” added Dent.

Dent is ready vote 'no.'

“A war weary American public is not prepared to even support a limited military strike," said Dent.

Others in our area are waiting to be briefed next week.

Congressman Joe Pitts from the 16th District says, "When I return to Washington, I hope that we are presented with a clear strategy that would both discourage further use of chemical weapons and avoid entangling our nation or our allies in this civil war."

Some senators hope the full Congress looks at the facts and follows the Senate committee's lead.

"I think we have struck the balance here in terms of the competing views that we heard on the committee, which is probably reflective of colleagues in the senate," said U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat representing New Jersey.

Congressman Dent acknowledges that speaker of the House John Boehner supports military action in Syria, but says sometimes he and the speaker don't agree.

Dent says the house will be briefed and vote on the issue sometime next week.

Meanwhile recent polls show the majority of Americans do not want to get involved in Syria.

According to a Reuters Poll, the question was asked 'If Syrian military uses chemical weapons such as sarin, should the US intervene?'

47.8% of those polled responded 'no'.

In another poll by ABC news and the Washington Post, there was even a stronger opposition to arming the Syrian rebels with 70% opposed to the idea, but an allied missile strike was met with 46% in favor and 51% against.

People WFMZ spoke with seem to favor another form of intervention.

"These people have been hurt, but again returning violence for violence is not the answer. If they do get involved it would be more with diplomatic negotiations," said Greta Mast of Telford.

Others, like Aidan McLoughlin of Center Valley, say they're worried history could repeat itself if the U.S. does get involved. "If we look back at 1995 during the Kosovo human rights violations, when we intervened over there, there was a huge massacre of the people that we weren't expecting and that wasn't intended and we have to be weary of possible consequences like that with U.S. intervention,” he said.

"If he shoots up missiles which is the most likely thing because they don't want him to put soldiers on the ground, it could turn out that Syria doesn't just forget about it and we end up ultimately in a war. So I wouldn't want to be the president right now, it's a tough call," said Craig Remaly of Allentown.

When asked if the U.S. is ready for another war in the Middle East, Lane McNeish of Bethlehem responded “Absolutely not, no way. No way, we've had enough.”