Congress doesn't think much of Syria intervention

Despite bi-partisan opposition to any intervention in Syria, President Obama seems determined to at least bomb the Syrians to punish them for their use of chemical weapons in the civil war.

Not only does Congress think it a bad idea, but some representatives think that the president should consult congress before any military action is taken.


"Syria is too far gone to pick sides," said Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who taught at West Point. "The rebels are infiltrated with Al Qaeda. Assad has joined the ranks of history's most evil despots in what he's willing to do to stay in power. And Russia won't help us find a solution because relations [between Washington and Moscow] are as bad as they have been in 30 years. I don't see a way forward, but U.S. boots on the ground is out of the question in my opinion."

Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California, the No. 2 Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said that the situation in Syria is "as complicated as it could be" but added that military intervention in Syria could "have unintended consequences that could, in fact, make the situation worse."

"We should take all necessary steps to support the United Nations inspection efforts and keep a close watch on who has access and who could have access to chemical weapons," Sanchez said in an emailed statement. "We need to make sure an attack of this nature cannot happen again. Going forward, Congress should be involved in any course of action that the Obama Administration takes."

The administration's options range widely -- from sending in ground troops to deploying an air campaign to cripple Assad's resources to humanitarian aid. But at this point, members of Congress seem unconvinced.

Of course, thinking can evolve. Members of Congress return after Labor Day and are sure to hear more from the administration about its plans. And if the situation worsens, lawmakers' might change their positions.

Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican on the Intelligence Committee, told POLITICO that he is against any intervention unless there is "some overwhelming evidence that the Assad regime has used weapons and only the Assad regime has used the weapons."

One congressman referred to a "cauldron of confusion" that intervention would be and thinks that Congress should be consulted before any military action takes place:

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.), a Marine veteran who represents the military-heavy Norfolk area, said Obama has mentioned working through coalition partners and the United Nations, but never Congress.

"It is not the king's army," Rigell told POLITICO. "The point is here is we have to challenge this basic premise that's dangerously permeating Washington and really throughout America that it's the president's prerogative alone. It's not. The use of that much force should be a judicious collaborative decision."

Rigell, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, called engagement in the Middle East a "quagmire."

"It's a quagmire military, it's a conundrum politically ... a cauldron of confusion. This is a region that is just inherently unstable," Rigell said. "The idea of injecting, inserting U.S. troops - I haven't seen anything yet that reaches that level."

I don't think Obama is dumb enough to send troops. But dropping bombs is war, and Congress won't be sidelined again like they were in Libya. There's already talk of impeachment, and if the president thumbs his nose at Congress again, that talk may increase.