PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – While President Obama debates the timing of his military reaction to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, local members of Congress weighed in here in Pittsburgh.
“I quite frankly think the president ought to brief Congress on this,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, an Upper St. Clair Republican, on Thursday. “I think he ought to seek our permission. I signed a letter yesterday to the president asking to do that.”
Murphy says the matter is too serious for the president to make this decision alone, adding he does not have authority to start a war.
“I don’t think the president has the power to do that under the War Powers Act to start a war. He’s able to do defensive things without congressional approval, but I’m seriously concerned about what’s going to happen here,” noted Murphy.
Congressman Keith Rothfus agrees, saying he’s skeptical of the end-game of an attack on Syria.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate, right time to use military action in Syria. There’s a lot that’s unsaid, a lot that we need to learn. We need to learn more about the situation on the ground, what would be the effect of military action, what would be the objective of military action,” said U.S. Rep. Rothfus, a Sewickley Republican.
“You just don’t want to go over there and have a fireworks show and wonder what the result is going to be,” noted the freshman congressman.
But U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, said the use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians was too serious to wait for a lengthy congressional debate.
“With regard to the Congress, the War Powers Act says that the president has to provide notice in a time frame, but I don’t think we should wait weeks or months for the Congress to act,” said Casey.
Casey says he expects action shortly.
“I think it will be targeted and limited, precise, and even proportional to the crime against humanity, which is the use of chemical weapons. Don’t forget, this regime — the Assad regime — has used chemical weapons on more than one occasion,” noted the senior senator. “We can’t, nor can the French, the British, or the folks in the Middle East, allow that to go unpunished.”