Congress is out of session until September 9th, but that hasn't stopped lawmakers — including many Californians — from weighing in on whether the U.S. should get involved militarily in Syria following allegations of a chemical weapons attack against civilians.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland and 12 other California Democratic colleagues were among those who signed a letter to President Obama, saying they join "the unequivocal condemnation" over reports the Syrian government used chemical weapons. But before the use of military force, the Democrats want a debate on the facts and the alternatives.
The letter reads: "while the ongoing human rights violations and continued loss of life are horrific, they should not draw us into an unwise war – especially without adhering to our own constitutional requirements."
California Democrats who signed the letter are: Barbara Lee (Oakland); Zoe Lofgren (San Jose); Lois Capps (Santa Barbara); Mike Honda (San Jose); Jackie Speier (San Francisco); Jared Huffman (San Rafael); Janice Hahn (Carson); Sam Farr (Santa Cruz); George Miller (Martinez); Judy Chu (El Monte); Alan Lowenthal (Long Beach); Henry Waxman (Los Angeles); and Julia Brownley (Ventura).
Not all California Democrats are as cautious. Congressman Adam Schiff of Glendale told CNN he agrees with President Obama that the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria crossed a line. "If we don't act on this red line now," Schiff said, "I think we'll be sending a message not only to the Assad regime that they can continue the use of chemical weapons, but to others around the world who may contemplate this."
California Republicans such as El Cajon's Duncan Hunter, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, are equally adamant about wanting a debate. But his spokesman says "there's a difference between sustained operations requiring debate and approval, and authority granted to the commander-in-chief by law that ensures the element of surprise and strategic value."
Republican Congressman John Campbell of Irvine says he opposes "any U.S. military involvement in this conflict in which there are no 'good guys,'" and Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach says "whatever gang of bad guys win in Syria has nothing to do with the security of the United States."