Local lawmakers sound off on president's address on Syria

Local lawmakers had varying reactions to President Barack Obama's address on Syria.

The president stressed the need for Syrian President Bashar Assad to hand over chemical weapons, but said he did not want troops on the ground in Syria. He called for a "targeted" military strike, but asked congressional leaders to postpone a vote on legislation he has been seeking to authorize the use of military force.

Here are the statements released Tuesday evening by lawmakers following the address:

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon

I share the President’s deep passion that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable.  The United States must not ignore Syria’s egregious crime against its citizens.

Indeed, America should bring the world together to condemn and penalize Syria for this action.  Such an effort, however, is best pursued through international negotiation and diplomacy.  I’m encouraged that the U.S. and other nations are now pursuing just such an international diplomatic strategy for ending Syrian access to chemical weapons. Over the coming days we will see if the Syrians and Russians can be full participants in a timely and verifiable intervention to accomplish this important and significant goal.

Congressman Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon

I appreciate the President working with Russia and our other international partners on developing a diplomatic strategy to end the use of chemical weapons in Syria and avert unilateral U.S. military action, as I have called for. The most effective way our nation can punish Syria’s violation of international norms, prevent potential future threats and avoid another costly war is to work under the aegis of an internationally recognized body. Obviously, the proof is in the pudding and a lot remains to be seen in regards to the timetable, execution and enforcement of the current proposal to rid Syria of every chemical weapon they possess. However, I stand with the President in leading the world community to get these horrible weapons out of the wrong hands and hold those who would dare use them on innocent civilians responsible.

Congressman Peter Defazio, D-Oregon

The use of chemical weapons by any country against their own civilians is morally reprehensible. Our response should begin with stronger engagement with the international community and the United Nations Security Council. The President is right to delay a vote for authorization of use of force-- the need for or potential effectiveness of U.S. military involvement is questionable at best. We should direct all of our considerable efforts and influence with our allies toward pursuing the opening of a chemical weapons disarmament plan and diplomatic resolution. We need significant U.N. actions that would both disarm the Syrian regime and try those responsible for war crimes in an international tribunal.

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon

This evening President Obama explained his case for a targeted military strike in Syria to deter and degrade the Assad regime from further use of chemical weapons, but also asked that a vote on military action be delayed while diplomatic efforts are pursued.
 
Every effort should be made to avoid military action. Syria’s decision to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and Russia’s condemnation of chemical weapons are both positive steps forward.
 
This is an issue best addressed by the international community. The United States must continue to work with countries around the globe to build support for a resolution that will require Syria to turn over chemical weapons and place them under the control of the UN.

Although the vote on military action will not be brought forward at this time, we must not ignore the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria. Congress should provide additional humanitarian aid to the refugees of this horrific conflict while the President and others within the administration work to build support for a diplomatic, non-military resolution.