Local lawmakers respond to Obama's call to act on Syria


by Michelle Arnold


Posted on September 4, 2013 at 5:39 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- President Obama and his team are trying to rally support for a military strike on Syria.

While many Americans seem skeptical, leaders on Capitol Hill appear to be too.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry knows the cost of war and Tuesday he presented his case to senators, urging them to vote 'yes' on limited military action in Syria.
"Are you going to be comfortable if Assad, as a result of the United States not doing anything, then gasses his people yet again and they and the world says, 'Why didn't the United States act,'" Sen. Kerry said.

The Administration stated their case to the house Wednesday and Congressman John Yarmuth said despite Assad's deplorable acts, he's not convinced that Syria is a direct threat to the United States' national security.
"I have not made a decision, but at this juncture, I'm not prepared to the resolution for the use of force," Yarmuth said.

He believes the vote wouldn’t pass at this point. But he, along with other members of Congress are concerned whether or not Obama abide by the congressional vote if it doesn't pass?

“If we do not say that the Constitution applies, if we do not say explicitly that we will abide by this vote, you're making a joke of us. You're making us into theater,” Senator Rand Paul said.

“Senator, I assure you there's nothing meaningless, and there is everything real about what is happening here,” Kerry said.

It doesn't happen often but Yarmuth agrees with Paul--he says if Obama takes action in Syria without Congress's vote it calls into question why the President ever asked Congress to weigh in in the first place.

“I think that's the point Senator Paul made yesterday in the committee and I think it's a very valid point,” Yarmuth said.

When asked about Senator Mitch McConnell's silence on the issue thus far, Yarmuth said he didn't think Pelosi, Boehner, Reid, or McConnell had a specific leadership role in this debate.

“I'm not critical of Senator McConnell or anyone else. This isn't a political issue for most people,” Yarmuth said. 

He said his vote is a vote of conscience and pre-existing knowledge of other wars. He says this isn't about the President's reputation either; it's about the outcome.

“I’m more concerned about the actions-- and how the actions could affect our ability to be a leader for human rights and democracy throughout the world,” Yarmuth said.

WHAS11's Michelle Arnold has more in the video above.