What Florida's congressional delegation is saying about President Barack Obama's Syria plan

Published Sept. 1, 2013

Members of Florida's congressional delegation reacted Saturday after President Barack Obama said he would seek congressional approval for military strikes against Syria. A sampling:

Sen. Bill Nelson: "The president wants to put to rest any doubt the American people may have. I support the president's decision. But as far as I'm concerned, we should strike in Syria today. The use of chemical weapons was inhumane, and those responsible should be forced to suffer the consequences."

Sen. Marco Rubio: "I agree with the decision to seek congressional approval before taking military action in Syria. And I believe Congress should return to Washington immediately and begin to debate this issue. The United States should only engage militarily when it is pursuing a clear and attainable national security goal. Military action taken simply to send a message or save face does not meet that standard."

Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fort Myers: "Before making a judgment call and deciding whether to support the president's course of action, I will return to Washington for extensive classified briefings. The administration needs to make its case, putting America First. They will also need to answer questions on the national security threat facing America, how we prevent our troops from getting dragged into a civil war, and how we are going to prevent the loss of American lives. Finally, the administration must lay out a plan, the end goal and an exit strategy."

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee: "I appreciate the president respecting the role of Congress in determining what steps we should take in Syria. While I am extremely apprehensive about engaging in the civil war there, I look forward to the debate."

Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonville: "The responsibility to declare war lies with Congress, and I am glad President Obama is seeking congressional authorization on any military action in Syria. Using chemical weapons against the innocent is not tolerable on any level. Aside from consulting with Congress, President Obama must also explain his rationale on any action directly to the citizens of this country, underscoring what's at stake and why action is necessary. The president and his advisers have reviewed the materials at hand. I will do the same in the coming days, analyzing facts from every part our government to determine the best way forward on this most troubling piece of world history."

Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City: "The president is right to seek authorization from Congress before launching military action, in accordance with the 1973 War Powers Act. While Syria's Bashar al-Assad is a tyrant and a threat to his people's freedoms, I share the concerns of many Americans who are weary of launching a mission that is currently undefined and lacks a clear end game. I look forward to hearing from my constituents and bringing their perspectives to the table when Congress reconvenes."

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland: "I join President Obama in strongly condemning the regime's use of chemical weapons against their people. I am glad that the president recognized the need to get congressional approval to use military force against Bashar al-Assad. Last week, 140 of my colleagues and I sent a letter to the president stating that engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution. There are still more questions to be answered and now the president will need to make the case to all Americans why our involvement in Syria is necessary for our national security."

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Miramar: "I thought he was particularly brilliant (in seeking congressional approval). He did what is constitutionally correct. I will review every line (of the classified intelligence report) and then when we vote, if it is as the president says it is, I will vote in favor of authorization."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston: "As a member of the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, I welcome the president's decision to ask Congress for approval of his proposal for a limited strike against Syria. This debate will help make our country stronger and ensure that we are united in a course of action."

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami: "The many gaps in his short and insufficient statement include what the military objective would be, what effect it would have in the outcome of the Syrian conflict, and what steps are being taken to protect our allies in the region. As I previously stated, while I would like to wholeheartedly support our Commander-in-Chief in the event of military action in Syria, any use of force must be purposeful, overwhelming, and in furtherance of specifically enumerated national security interests. Unfortunately, the president has failed to provide a coherent policy on Syria to date. His poorly conceived 'red line' unnecessarily leveraged U.S. credibility, and placed him in the regrettable position of either following through on the promised retaliation or confirming that his threat was a hollow one."

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami: "It was the right decision. I think the American people want their elected officials to have a vote. My concern is what would the retaliation be and would it affect neighboring countries ... I will be asking, 'who is the opposition?' If Assad is the enemy, who is the friend? I'm not a hawk and I will do anything that I can to keep our nation from going to war. It is my hope that we will not go to war."

Miami Herald staff writer Gustavo Solis contributed to this report.