Members of the U.S. Senate got another day of closed-door security briefings on Syria Friday in advance of a floor vote that could come next week.
Earlier this week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10 to 7 to support a resolution authorizing U.S. military action against the government of Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons. One of those "yes" votes has some Southern California Democrats up in arms.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was already back in California for the Jewish holidays when the Foreign Relations Committee cast its vote on military action in Syria, but she cast her "yes" vote by proxy.
In her home state, L.A. Democrats were swift to react. Cara Robin, president of the West L.A. Democratic Club, said she was "surprised and, I have to say, appalled."
Joe Cicero, president of the Southern California chapter of Americans for Democratic Action (SCADA), said he had to "double check the information" when he heard about Boxer's vote. He said he was "really shocked, surprised."
Both organizations represent the sort of voters who have been stalwart supporters of the liberal Senator. Cicero said he was expecting Boxer to follow public opinion "and follow her progressive conscience and be cautious and vote against this."
Robin said her West L.A. Democratic Club Yahoo group voted this week against taking military action. And she added that those who favored it want a limited response, such as incapacitating the Syrian air force by bombing runways. Robin said her fellow Westside Democrats have questions: "Why is it us? Why are we going in again? What about the world? We haven't been there for other countries, for other genocides."
Boxer isn't the only prominent California Democrat who supports military action. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles also support the President's proposal for limited action.
Cicero said that Boxer has a "mixed background" when it comes to voting on war resolutions— something the senator herself brought up at the Foreign Affairs hearing this week. Boxer said, since coming to the Senate in 1992, she's voted "against the Iraq war, but I did for the vote of use of force against Osama bin Laden. I voted to support air strikes against Serbia, but I vocally opposed the military surge in Afghanistan." She told her colleagues she approaches the Syria issue in the same way: "With a very heavy heart and a very independent mind."
That independence could come back to haunt Boxer.
Cicero said his group has endorsed her in every election he can remember. But maybe not next time. "We don't give anybody a pass forever," he said. "We look at their record, and we endorse them based on their votes." At his group's board meeting this week, Cicero said fellow members talked about endorsing someone else next time around.
Boxer, whose office declined to respond to the criticism, isn't on the ballot again for another five years. But House members face voters next June.
Both Robin and Cicero said the strategy is to push lawmakers, including Boxer, to vote against the resolution when it comes to the House and Senate floor — and let them know they'll be watching to see how those votes are cast.