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Debate over Syria interrupts break for Congress

September 5, 2013
By JOSELYN KING - Special to the Herald-Star , The Herald-Star

Congress soon will decide whether the United States should begin military strikes on Syria, and the issue cut short the Labor Day recess for some who returned to Washington for briefings.

Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, said he was one of only 81 House members attending briefings for House members Sunday. He has since returned to Ohio's 6th District.

"Given how important this Congressional briefing was for the president to make his case for taking military action in Syria, I was surprised that neither he, nor the vice president, nor any cabinet level official was in attendance," Johnson said. "The decision on whether or not to commit American troops and risk American lives when the United States is not directly threatened is a difficult one, and the president has the heavy burden of convincing the Congress and the American people of its merits. I left (Sunday's) briefing with more questions and concerns than I had when I arrived."

Article Photos

ON THE HILL — Secretary of State John Kerry leans over to confer with his advisers on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday as he testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the question of use of military force in Syria. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is at left. - Associated Press

Rep. David B. McKinley, R-Wheeling, did not attend Sunday's briefings, spokesman Jim Forbes said. McKinley has remained in West Virginia's 1st District this week, hosting a town hall meeting in Bethany Tuesday. He also announced plans to speak Friday at West Liberty University's Highlands Center on the issue of exports.

"There will be a security briefing on Monday (in Washington) which he plans on attending," Forbes said. "Most likely, the House will be debating and voting on the issue next week.

"As for now, he's doing what's he's being told to do by the speaker - come back on Monday. He is monitoring the situation and talking with constituents to get their thoughts. As an individual member not on one of the committees, that's the most effective thing he can be doing now," Forbes added.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-Charleston, also is not a member of any of the committees meeting this week.

"I believe that the president made the right decision to ask for congressional approval," she said. "I will consider the information provided by our intelligence officials about Syria's actions, the path forward proposed by the administration and the views I hear from people across West Virginia in deciding whether to authorize the use of force. I stand ready and willing to come back to Washington, D.C., at any time to consider the evidence and participate in the debate."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Both canceled scheduled events in the state this week to attend briefings in Washington.

Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, do not serve on any of the committees having briefings this week.

 
 

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