Thank you for contacting me about ongoing conflict in Syria. It is an honor to represent the people of Southwest Washington, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me.
I am increasingly disturbed by the escalating brutality and violence the Assad regime is perpetrating against its own citizens, but I share your concerns regarding U.S. military involvement in the Syria conflict. Military intervention in another nation's conflict should only be carried out by the U.S. after serious and thorough consideration, and only with the explicit approval of Congress.
When I am asked to consider any military intervention, I ask the following questions:
Is this use of military force vital to America's national interest?
What is a victory? Have we clearly defined our mission?
If we do commit our military, are we committed to win?
What is the proposed timetable for ending our involvement?
Are the American people and the Congress clearly in support of the military action?
After achieving victory how do we end our military commitment and bring our men and women home?
I will not vote to commit U.S. forces to Syria without compelling answers to all of those questions. As of now, none of them have been sufficiently answered.
In June, the U.S. House formally considered the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. I was concerned with a provision within the bill that urged the president to proceed with preparations for military intervention in Syria. Consequently, I supported the bipartisan Gibson-Garamendi provision (Amendment No. 36) to remove this language, in essence reinforcing that the President must be given specific authority to engage in military actions in Syria by Congress.
After 12 years of American men and women fighting in the Middle East, we have a greater appreciation for the toll war takes on our country and its citizens. While it is increasingly clear that Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, opposition forces within the country have also been responsible for chemical weapons attacks and other egregious human rights violations. Weakening the Assad regime only to allow these factions to fill the vacuum of power could be a serious mistake. Our nation's leaders must seriously consider all repercussions of our decisions.
Thank you again for contacting me on this issue...