CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa congressmen are offering only conditional support for President Barack Obama’s call for military action against Syria.
Although he finds the president’s statements “compelling,” Iowa’s senior member of Congress, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, said Iowans at his recent town hall meetings had “lots of questions” and showed no support for military intervention.
Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin came away from a classified congressional briefing with more questions than answers. Although Syria’s “atrocious use of chemical weapons against civilians is an affront to human values (that) should be condemned,” Harkin warned against rushing into “what may become a new open-ended war without broad international backing or a full understanding of the ramifications.”
Obama is asking Congress to approve military action against Syria, which the administration said launched a chemical weapon attack against rebels that killed more than 1,400 people, including several hundred children.
Last week, Obama put his plans on hold and is seeking congressional approval for military action. Senators and representatives are not scheduled to return to Washington until Monday.
Iowa’s U.S. House members seem no more eager for military action than Harkin and Grassley.
First District Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley called for House leaders to call Congress back immediately to debate military action in Syria. Although he thinks Obama is making the right decision to seek congressional authorization for a military response, Braley stopped short of endorsing such action.
Likewise, 2nd District Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack condemned Syria’s action, but “after more than a decade of war during which time our troops and military families have made great sacrifices on our behalf, we must exercise extreme caution in undertaking military action.”
Third District Republican Rep. Tom Latham said the president hasn’t made the case for stepping into a civil war.
“I have not heard any kind of an end game or what the purpose is,” he said.
Fourth District Rep. Steve King was not available for comment, according to his staff.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will have a hearing on the use of military force against Syria at 11 a.m. Wednesday. C-SPAN and C-SPAN radio will broadcast the hearing.