Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

On left and right, Tampa Bay lawmakers skeptical of Syria strike

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, said he did not think a vote to strike would pass if held now.
Published Sep. 2, 2013

TAMPA — Florida politicians on each end of the political spectrum spoke out against approving a military strike against Syria following a classified congressional briefing Sunday.

Their reservations illustrate the difficult task President Barack Obama faces as he seeks congressional approval for what he describes as a limited strike to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, said Sunday that despite compelling circumstantial evidence, he did not think a vote would pass if held now.

Several representatives said Congress must first decide whether there is a compelling national interest at stake before weighing how to proceed.

"Without a direct threat to the national security of the United States, I oppose an overt military strike against Syria," U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, wrote in a letter to Obama. "As I have visited with my neighbors across my district this month, I have heard from many of them who are extremely wary of military action that could lead to greater entanglement in a region where fighting factions are not aligned with the United States and our allies or our national interests. I urge you to be cautious and conservative and fully analyze the strategic aftermath."

Lawmakers said they expect the United Nations to present evidence to corroborate U.S. claims that chemical weapons were used. Several argue that current legislation authorizing a strike is too broad and gives the president too much power.

"We have played a game with our foreign policy thinking that we can continue to bully people in the Middle East, including the Russians," said Ross, whose district includes parts of Hillsborough County. "We now are in a box, and that box is looking for congressional affirmation."

Ross called the use of chemical weapons "absolutely horrific" and said other countries should be outraged. However, he said, the United States should not operate unilaterally.

Ross and Castor both warned of the unintentional consequences, such as a retaliation against Israel or a spike in violence within Syria.

"An overt military strike by the United States is likely to exacerbate violence in the Middle East and put needed stability further out of reach," Castor wrote. "In Syria, the civil war for dominance between the controlling Arab Alawites, the Arab Sunni majority, the Kurdish minority, and other Christian and Druze minorities is complicated by proxy actors in the region and decades of incompetent authoritarian leadership and economic stagnation. A singular military strike by the United States will not change these dynamics."

The nation could expect to see a response from Congress within the next 10 days, Ross said.

"Engaging our military should include a clear, attainable goal and consider whether a direct national security risk to the United States exists," Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, said in a statement. "I share the concerns of many of my constituents in engaging in this civil war and will be returning to Washington to examine the evidence and debate this on the House floor."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  2. The Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach. JOE RAEDLE  |  Getty Images
    It wasn’t immediately clear how much Mar-a-Lago would charge to host the Marine Corps Birthday Ball — or even if it might do so for free.
  3. In this March 24, 2018, file photo, crowds of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in San Francisco. JOSH EDELSON  |  AP
    ‘Guns are always a volatile topic in the halls of the legislature,’ one Republican said.
  4. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  5. Tonight's LGBTQ Presidential Forum is hosted by Angelica Ross of FX's Pose. Twitter
    A live stream of the event and what to watch for as 10 candidates meet on stage in Iowa.
  6. In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass.  [AP Photo | Steven Senne] STEVEN SENNE  |  AP
    "The department does not appear to have the authority to do anything.”
  7. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  8. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.
  9. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  10. Vice President Joe Biden, right, talks to supporters as former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, left, stands near during a campaign stop at at Century Village in Boca Raton, Fla., Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Crist is locked in a tight race against Gov. Rick Scott in one of the most negative gubernatorial campaigns in Florida history. The two disagree on most major issues, including health care, the minimum wage, Cuba policy, gay marriage and medical marijuana. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) ORG XMIT: FLAD102 ALAN DIAZ  |  AP
    The Florida Republican-turned-Democrat said Biden’s ‘record of getting things done speaks for itself.’
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement