Region’s lawmakers mixed on Obama’s Syria speech

By:  The Spokesman-Review - Jim Camden
Source: The Spokesman-Review

Giving Syria a chance to resolve the crisis over its use of chemical weapons through diplomatic means is better than the military option – if it works, Idaho Sen. Jim Risch said Tuesday night after President Barack Obama’s address to the nation.

“It was a strange speech. The situation is so fluid and moving so quickly,” said Risch, a Republican.

It relies on Syria, which two days ago denied even having chemical weapons, surrendering them, and Russia, which isn’t living up to a treaty limiting its chemical weapons, applying pressure, he said.

“It’s good that the Russians got the Syrians to talk about this, but they should eventually step aside and let a credible organization take control,” he said.

His Idaho seatmate, Sen. Mike Crapo, said the case still hasn’t been made for using American military force, and the limited response is “more likely to harm, rather than protect our interests.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said Obama was right to ask to delay the vote on using military force, and the nation should redouble efforts for a diplomatic solution. “I encourage the administration to push for Kofi Annan to resume his role as the U.N.’s special peace envoy to Syria.”

On Tuesday before the speech, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, announced he would vote no on the resolution.

“Nothing they said changed the fact that we are not the police force of the world, we don’t have any compelling national interest in Syria and it’s doubtful that an alternative government in Syria will be any better than the current one,” Labrador said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., endorsed the diplomatic route earlier Tuesday after meeting with Obama.

Some members of House Republican leadership, including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, previously announced support for military action. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Spokane, remained uncommitted, although a spokeswoman said Monday she was moderating discussions among members and planned to announce a position later this week.